As I mentioned a while back, a good amount of music has fallen through the cracks, leading me to another edition of the aptly-named Music that slipped through the cracks… . In Part VI, we’ll run the gamut from critically acclaimed Polaris nominees…to 80s wash-ups. Nothing is off limits!
Released: May 5, 2009 (Can)
A tip of the hat to Montrealers Patrick Watson (yes, that is plural). Well done, gents (and lass). Wooden Arms was shortlisted for the 2009 Polaris Prize (the music industry’s answer to music industry awards), and deservedly so. It is certainly one of the best Canadian albums from June 2008 to June 2009. Imagine Sufjan Stevens, M.Ward and DM Stith were all Canadian and made an album. That is Wooden Arms, more or less. Great to listen to if you are already predisposed, and maddeningly awkward to enjoy if you are not.
For a taste, check out the video for “Fireweed”
I wish I’d be in your wooden arms
That’ll swallow me into a thousand dreams
And held me close while wooden eyes
That weep just like a willow tree
– Wooden Arms
Released: June 9, 2009 (US)
Stewart Ransom Miller II, singer for the Old 97’s (“Ten times better than the New 97’s!”) puts out his fourth solo album, the oddly titled Rhett Miller. Why odd? Well, usually when you do a self-titled solo album, it’s your first. Also, it’s titled after yourself. Who is this “Rhett” Miller? Pfft, from now on, all correspondence shall refer to him by his birthname of Stewart Ransom Miller II (“Sounds like a pro golfer!”). So, ergo, Stewart Ransom Miller II, the album, is actually a really good listen for alt-country fans. Fans of Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams and The Jayhawks will all dig on Stewart Ransom Miller II’s self-titled Stewart Ransom Miller II (“Filed alphabetically under ‘II’!”). Et cetera, ad nauseum, infinitum, Stewart Ransom Miller II.
For a taste, check out Stewart Ransom Miller II perform “Like Love” in-studio at KRCC
Meet me by the bonfire
Underneath the north star and the sycamores
Tell me that you love me
Ill tell you what I will do forevermore
Close your eyes and see
What this could mean to you and me
Everything is going to change
Released: June 23, 2009 (USA)
Did you know that Regina Spektor was born in the USSR? In a complete nod to her growing up misunderstanding/pronouncing English pop, Spektor brings the phonetically titled “Eet”. I just thought I’d point that out. Far, as an album goes, is probably her best stuff on display, but though it is aimed straight at middle America, it falls into the type of music you either really like or really hate. Fiona Apple fans need not be converted. To the rest of you, you’ll draw a line.
For a taste, check out Regina in all her “uniqueness” in “Dance Anthem of the 80s”
No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’ve lost all they got and they don’t know what for
– Laughing With
Released: June 8, 2009 (UK)
If this album isn’t playing in your homemade nightclub (AKA living room with the lights flickering on and off), you obviously aren’t having fun. Unabashedly fun pop music. No guilt here, folks. Just a well-constructed album with all the right elements. Now, that being said, Hands has about as much sincerity as a nightclub. It’s skindeep, superficial fluff that sounds great when you are in a good mood. If you want soul, look elsewhere, perhaps a bookstore (audiobook section?). But as it’s the end of the summer fun, and you may have missed this album, I suggest you get your paws on it posthaste and indulge before the autumn and its seriousness returns.
For a taste, listen to the infectious “New In Town” music video featuring dancing hobos, now in HD!
Blank pages surrounding your eyes
Overthrow the colours in your mind
Science has always been a lie
I can see you shiver in my thigh
I’m falling like a snowflake
Catch me quick before I disappear
I’m fading like the sun
As soon as I’m gone everything will come undone
Released: February 24, 2009 (Can)
After seeing K’naan light up Ottawa’s bluesfest, of course I had to catch up on his latest stuff (I had last heard him back on The Dusty Foot Philosopher). Troubadour is poppy, filled with great beats (especially a mixture of African rhythms) and lots of guest spots (Adam Levine, Kirk Hammett, and Mos Def, for examples). Beyond that though is the authenticity of his storytelling, which makes him so unique, telling tales of a life few can imagine.
For a taste, check out the fresh vid for “T.I.A.”
Picture the morning, taste and devour,
we rise early, pace up the hour
Streets is rustling, hustling they heart out
you can’t have the sweet with no sour
Spices, herbs, sweets and the flour
she came out precisely the hour
Clouds disappear, the sun shows the power
no chance of a probably shower
I feel in love with my neighbour’s daughter
I wanted to protect and support her
Nevermind, I’m just 12 and a quarter
I had dreams beyond our border
Released: April 14, 2009 (USA)
L.A. shoegaze(“Hey Ma! Look at my shoes!”)/dream pop (as opposed to MJ’s “Thriller”, which can only be described as nightmare pop)/indie band Silversun Pickups return with their second LP, Swoon, an ambient, layered album that will please fans of disparate groups such as Smashing Pumpkins and Metric.
For a taste, check out the trippy video for “Panic Switch”, easily one of the best songs on Swoon.
And I’ll try to hold on tight tonight
Pink slip, inviting me inside
I want to burn skin and brand what once was mine
But the red news came ripping in to fight
– Panic Switch
Foot of the Mountain
Released: June 19, 2009 (EU)
You’ve got to be kidding me. Remember “Take On Me”?. These guys are good, really good. They can turn into cartoons. They can get referenced on Family Guy. They can manufacture more hits in Germany than Hasselhoff. Unfortunately, that magic doesn’t extend out my way. Foot of the Mountain sounds like it came out of 1984, which is fine if you are young and doing it ironically, which A-Ha can’t manage, because as we all know there isn’t a Norwegian word for it.
For a taste, check out the video for “Foot of the Mountain”, where lead singer Morten wanders around aimlessly, looking very Eurotrash.
Keep your clever lines
Hold your easy rhymes
Silence always wins
It’s a perfect alibi
There’s no need to analyze
It will be all right
Through the longest night
Just silence everything
– Foot of the Mountain