Blue Cheer Play “Come And Get It”

Blue Cheer OutsideinsideListen to this track by San Franciscan psychedelic power trio and heavy metal seed planters Blue Cheer. It’s “Come And Get It”, a cut off of their 1968 LP Outsideinside. The song would help to show off their, um, mettle as a band that specialized in “heavy” music, before many bands explored the range of back to basics loudness in quite this way.

The most obvious comparison for many to what Blue Cheer represented at the time may be the Jimi Hendrix Experience. But, that comparison is mostly cosmetic. Hendrix’s music was about ecstatic excursions that included Dylanesque influences mixed with R&B, and culminating in an outward expansion of rock music as a form. Blue Cheer went the other way; inward, and back.

They went back to the roots of the music itself, their most famous example being their take on Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues”. With that tune, they boiled the song down to its essentials, and turned up the heat (and the amps). A similar approach can be found on their take on the Stones’ “Satisfaction”, on which they took the original, hit it over the head with a lead pipe, kicked it while it was down, went through its pockets for loose change. They did all with the best results.

But, what of this song which is an original composition? (more…)

Son Little Sings “Cross My Heart”

Son Little Cross My HeartListen to this track by impressionistic blues and soul proponent for the 21st century, Son Little. It’s “Cross My Heart”, his initial foray into a new musical milieu under this new moniker in November of 2013. His birth name is Aaron Livingston, known for  projects under that name in collaborations with Rjd2 and The Roots.

The evocation of the blues is palpable here on his first single under the Son Little banner, and for more than the standard and purely musical reasons, although this song departs from that template too. For many, the blues is not so much a musical form as it is a spiritual state, and a connection to a shared history that is less joyous than even the best in a musical genre has shown us.

At the root, and established before the branches of rock and soul music were cultivated , the blues has always been about pain and dehumanization, and the raw expression in reaction to those. That’s what Son Little hooks into here.

Yet, somehow this is not about some scholarly recreation of classic blues or soul. There are greater depths to be discovered here.

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Bronski Beat Plays “Smalltown Boy”

Bronski Beat The Age of ConsentListen to this track by London-based synthpop trio Bronski Beat. It’s “Smalltown Boy”, their biggest hit, released in June of 1984, and eventually appearing on their first record Age of Consent by the end of the year. Before this, they were three housemates living in Brixton, south London; Steve Bronski (after whom the band is named), Larry Steinbachek, both of whom played keyboards, and Jimmy Somerville lending his uniquely calibrated pipes as lead vocalist.

The single was a smash success, gaining top ten showings all over the world, and only after the three friends did only a brief stint of gigs before signing with London Records. Besides the clear thematic content in the song itself, another aspect of the song was assuredly brought out by the video which enjoyed heavy rotation. In it, Somerville portrays a young man who is on a train, reflecting on what it was that set him out on his journey; that the small town where he is from is too small for him, and for others like him.

In many ways, it’s a pretty simple narrative. But, it was, and is, tied up in a common thread that we’re still working our way through as a society today. (more…)

Travis Plays “Driftwood”

Travis DriftwoodListen to this track by Scottish post-Britpop favourites Travis. It’s “Driftwood”, a top twenty UK single as taken from their 1999 album The Man Who, their second. The song was released in May of that year, the second single from the album following the Oasis-like “Writing To Reach You”.

Travis represented something of a third wave of British guitar pop in the 1990s, coming in after the Britpop era had concluded, and long after The Stone Roses and their contemporaries revitalized the guitar for pop music in Britain at the beginning of the decade and out of the ashes of the late 1980s. At the time Travis were looked upon as being somewhat lightweight when compared to the zeitgeist precision of Blur, the kitchen sink drama of Pulp, or the ironic glam of Suede. But, to me those are not apples to apples comparisons in any case.

What this song provided was something of a relief from the artifice of Britpop (as good as that artifice was, to be clear). It navigated different waters, and more frightening ones in some respects, just because it contrasted so starkly against the distance and irony for which Britpop is known. No, Travis went the other way; they were earnest. That’s a tough row to hoe, especially when it comes to the British music press.

Really, I think that’s what was at the center of the critical backlash against a lot of late ’90s British guitar pop, with the understanding that some bands pulled it off to a greater degree than some others. So, what’s so earnest about this song, and what is it really about anyway? (more…)

June Tunes Digest 2014

Summer is the time for new tunes! It’s like a rule or something.

So, as we proceeded last year with the Delete Bin June Tunes Digest, so do we do so this year with a selection of new tunes from bands and songwriters who deserve your attention. Some you may already know. Some you may be discovering for the first time. Either way, you win.

Summer faeries

As we did last year, we’re going to make an exception to the “10 songs” format too. This is 16 songs, good people, 16 songs of goodness freshly baked for the summer of 2014 which is just around the corner. Think of it as a mix tape made just for you.

And as per usual, this list of tunes represents various points along the pop music spectrum, and is listed in no specific order, as is the custom on the ‘Bin. See which ones resonate with you the most.

Take a listen!

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“Summer Lane” by Owenstone

LA-based Owenstone deliver this summer anthem, with a touch of modern psychedelia, a dash of Far-East flavouring, and (to these ears) a bit of an ecstatic ’80s bombast too.  This track comes from their recent self-titled EP which you can learn all about when you slide along to owenstone.com.

“Love Is A Madness” by No Sinner

Vancouver-based rock ‘n’ roll band No Sinner is fronted by rip-roaring 26-year old R&B vocalist Colleen Rennison (spell her last name backwards …), who takes her love of classic R&B-influenced rock and channels it through an impressive set of pipes to deliver the real thing herself. This track is from the upcoming record Boo Hoo Hoo, out June 24 – that’s this Tuesday! Check out nosinner.com for more.

“Get With You” The Damn Truth

Incendiary vocals, ’60s-style garage-punk energy, and LUST. What is more summery than that, good people? This single is the new one from Montreal’s The Damn Truth, which for a limited time you can get for free on their site, thedamntruth.com.

“On The Line” by The Red Rails

Ottawa’s The Red Rails rock the classic  power trio dynamic with this effervescently ferocious single that displays the band’s chops, but not at the expense of their deft hand at songwriting. This song serves as the harbinger for the upcoming full-length A Living Fiction, due to drop on July 15. Find out more about the band by mosying on down to theredrails.com.

“Never Thought This Would Happen” by The Arkells

Hamilton Ontario band who deal in enormous pop hooks and songs that make you wonder why no one thought to write them before, The Arkells present  guitar pop with sweeping strings, descending Lennonesque chords, and soaring vocals. This is music made for radio and for summer, too. What, I tells ye, is not to love? This is the first single as taken from their most recent record High Noon, their third, and a song I got to hear them play live at CBC Live this year, held at Deer Lake Park,  just up the road from where I’m writing this. To catch up with the Arkells, head on over to Arkells.ca.

“Follow The Blood” by Nine Sons of Dan

New South Wales Australia’s Nine Sons of Dan deliver this title track to their newest EP that should be all over the radio everywhere. If it isn’t, demand your money back, kids. This is a song built for mainstream appeal, unabashedly pop and that is full of alternative rock gravity, delicate strings, and all-around aural sunshine. Learn more about them at ninesonsofdan.com.

“Mary” by Ivory Hours

London Ontario’s Ivory Hours deliver buoyantly melodic pop music that doesn’t shy away from the darker end of the human experience spectrum. This is the title track to their recent EP, a song about friendship, losing one’s way, and the effect that one’s choices have on the those who care about them. But amidst the emotional gravity, they don’t forget to write a good tune ready for radio play. Learn more about them at ivoryhours.com.

“Just Say Hello” by Lyonn

Every summer romance needs a theme song, and this could be it if yours is of the unrequited variety. Lyonn (aka Tyler Gelrud) splits time between Orange  County, CA and Knoxville TN, crafting acoustic pop music with a punch as featured on his latest EP Promenade.  Get the latest news at LyonnMusic.com.

“Sparks” by Boreal Sons

If wistful art rock with ecstatically shimmering atmospheres is your idea of what will kick off your summer, then Calgary’s Boreal Sons is here to put the capital “R” back into Romance for you. This is a track from their most recent full-length record Threadbare. The band recently completed dates in Britain, after a cross-Canada tour. You can learn about their adventures at borealsons.com.

“With Haste” by Future History

Toronto’s Future History mix warm acoustics with echoey post-punk production to create darkly compelling pop music. This is the first single off of their latest record Lungs that was recorded clubhouse style in an abandoned hermitage in rural Ontario. You can watch the video for the song here, featuring that same rural Ontario setting.

“Iranians” by DAVIDS

If retro-futurist synthpop with a dance feel that is only rivaled by its sense of atmosphere is your thing, than Toronto’s DAVIDS (not “Davids”, and certainly not “David’s”, I’m told…) is here. This is the lead track from the EP 0613EP, characterized by European-style electronics that hearken back to a time of analogue grooves and icily compelling pop hooks. Like the band on Facebook.

“Little Earthquakes” by Imperial Mammoth

Summer is time to dance to something poptastically life-affirming. This is one of those ones made to sing along to while you’re dancing. This track by LA-based electronic pop duo Imperial Mammoth is set to become that summer anthem to which to move one’s feet, taken from their album Gold Confetti, released this coming Tuesday, June 24th. Visit the band’s website at imperialmammoth.com for more.

 “Giving Life To The Greys” by Daysdeaf

Atmospheric soundscapes mixed with a kind of hazy R&B feel is what typifies this single from the album When Color Lost Light. The band hail from Toronto, with an ear for experimental texture, perfect for sultry summer evenings kicking back. You can like Daysdeaf on Facebook.

“Elephants” by Fire/Works

Montreal’s Fire/Works deliver a moody, folky and cinematically evocative single in this track. This is a forerunner to their upcoming album Shenanigans. Look for the album in the Fall, folks! In the meantime, you might as well like the band on Facebook.

 “Zion” by S’Ambrosia

S’Ambrosia hails from Nairobi in Kenya, following a similar path to India Arie and Jill Scott despite the considerable physical geography that separates those artists from her. This is wistful acoustic pop with soul overtones, not to mention overt gospel elements that makes this tune a modern hymn without forgetting to be sonically interesting, too. Hear more at the S’Ambrosia YouTube channel.

“Phantoms And Friends” by Old Man Canyon

“Don’t let the ones that wanna steal your dreams away … just laugh and let it go”. Good advice this summer, with Old Man Canyon’s (otherwise known as singer-songwriter Jett Pace and his band) recent single as taken from the EP which is cleverly entitled Phantoms And Friends. The band is currently on tour with Foster the People, no doubt enjoying some pumped up kicks of their own. Check out oldmancanyon.com to stay up to date.

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Right, so there we have it summer people!

What’s your favourite track? What tracks can you recommend from a local band in your area that aren’t on this list?

Speak, good people! And otherwise,

Enjoy!

Vashti Bunyan Sings “Wayward”

Lookaftering Vashti BunyanListen to this track by returning den mother of wispy, ethereal English folk music Vashti Bunyan. It’s “Wayward”, one of the many jewels featured on her 2005 album Lookaftering, her second full-length album in a career that at that point stretched to forty years, starting with her years working with Andrew Loog Oldham in the mid-60s as a pop singles artist. Her first album, Just Another Diamond Day was released in 1970, a work that moved away  from pop and embraced a distinctively English folk style instead.

But, despite its delicate lyricism, ecstatic pastoral textures, and appealingly hazy melodicism, that first album was a commercial flop. Tired of the merciless rigours of the music business and of trying to find an audience that understood what she was trying to do, Bunyan gave it up to concentrate on other things, specifically in raising a family. She repaired to a farm in Ireland to live the rural life that is reflected in her songs. That was thirty-five years before she’d return as a recording artist with a new album.

What was it that brought her back? The answer is simply that her first album paid her back for her efforts by taking on a life of its own long after she’d given it up for dead.

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Loudon Wainwright III performs “The Here and the Now”

Loudon Wainwright III Older than my old man now

And now, good people, a special treat. Writer and music collector/appreciator Bruce Jenkins guests on the ‘Bin about one of his favourite songs, and albums and in the popular style of this humble blog, no less …

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Listen to this track by self-revealing songwriter and one-time ‘Next Bob Dylan’ Loudon Wainwright III. It’s “The Here and the Now”, opening song on his 2012 album Older Than My Old Man Now. This autobiographical collection showcases the wry wit and sly humour of a man whose fame peaked with the unexpected Top 40 novelty hit “Dead Skunk” back in 1972.

With a CV that includes over two dozen albums, several marriages, a couple of musically gifted children (daughter Martha and son Rufus) and a considerable amount of therapy, you would imagine there was abundant material for an entertaining memoir. But no. Rather than typing 350 pages of reminisce, LWIII set himself the challenge of encapsulating his life in a 3 1/2 minute song. And he gets familial help. (more…)