Summer 2010 Flashback

Posted in Music on June 18th, 2011 by Tom

Last summer I was really getting into a few awesome bands who put out records that set a fantastic tone for my summer. It seems like another age, looking back, and while I don’t have nearly as much idle time, there’s still plenty of great music!

At the time, in very heavy rotation was Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, Wolf Parade’s Expo 86, and Tokyo Police Club’s Champ. I realized today that I have something ‘new’ to share from each of those artists, and I thought it would be fun to do an omnibus post!

Arcade Fire-
So I’m sure everyone is essentially sick of me talking about how much I liked The Suburbs, which is fair, but nonetheless: I’ve been jamming to a decent live recording of that album’s title track, and recently the AF crew did a rearrangement of the emotive centerpiece of that album, ‘We Used To Wait

‘We Used To Wait’ [Rearrangement for WBEZ]
[ mp3 ♫ ]

It’s definitely a softer, less aggressive cut of the song, and while I miss the piano, this version is still very full in terms of instrumentation, even as an acoustic track.

Wolf Parade-
Sadly, nothing legitimately new from Wolf Parade. You can hop over to NPR and listen to their Sasquatch set, which is really good. I think there’s a live stream of their last set too, which I heard did not disappoint. Instead, from these guys I instead offer a track from their previous effort, At Mount Zoomer.

I bought the record last summer, but never really sunk much time into it. Feeling nostalgic, I fired it up, and found a lot to like.

‘California Dreamer’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

Above is an example, ‘California Dreamer‘ of the epic soundscapes that Wolf Parade so excels at. (9 tracks, only 1 of which is less than three minutes, 4 of which are longer than five!)

Tokyo Police Club-
This isn’t purely TPC, but instead by proxy of their keyboard player, Graham Wright. He has a solo album coming out soon (June 28) titled Shirts vs. Skins which has a lot of TPC’s signature sound to it, and I really warmed up to this track.

‘Soviet Race’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

I can’t tell to what extent I’m supposed to associate it with October Sky, but it’s a lot of fun regardless.

So that’s it for the summer 2010 flashback. Believe it or not, I have some legit album reviews in the works. Kinda had a mini-crisis where I decided I hated everything I was listening to, and had to start fresh with some new material that’s worked out much better.

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2010 Best Of

Posted in Music on December 11th, 2010 by Tom

Read the Full List Here

I’ve been hard at work on my top albums of 2010, and it’s finally done! Head over to the article for the complete list, commentary, songs, etc.

In the next few weeks, I’ve got exams and the like, so I probably won’t have more to share until I get home later in December. Until then, I hope you enjoy the list.


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Posted in Music on July 12th, 2010 by Tom

Champ has been one of the most pleasant surprises this year so far. I’d never heard of Tokyo Police Club before, and picked up the album on recommendation from a Barnes and Noble salesmen because I was feeling adventurous. I’m really glad I did, because this album quickly became one of my favorites so far.

A little overloaded on ensemble productions (Broken Social Scene, New Pornographers, Cloud Cult) at the moment, the simplicity of the music was a welcome reprieve. Which is not to say the sound is flat or boring, but just straightforward. It packs quite a bit of punch in some places, and the fast-paced songs snag your attention and don’t let go until the album closes. Not a single track is wasted as filler, and even among the best records that is not guaranteed.

So true is this about Champ that I really had a hard time picking two songs to share with you. The first that I have to throw out there is ‘Favourite Colour‘.

‘Favourite Colour’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

No single song has gotten stuck in my head this summer like this one has. The guitar line on the refrain is just bold enough that you respect it, but not so huge that it comes off as tacky. The lyrics tell a pretty cohesive story, and contain a fantastic set of lines,

Tell me what’s
Tell me what’s your favorite color
Tell me your favorite color
Tell me how’s
Tell me how’s your younger brother
How’s your younger brother?
Tell me what’s the first
Very first record you owned
’cause I’ve got no plans if you don’t
No plans if you don’t

‘Breakneck Speed’ is a solid bridge to the frenetic ‘Wait Up (Boots of Danger)‘. I’m going to cheat a little and include the music video in leiu of an mp3 because the dogs in it are adorable, and the tune fantastic:

Despite an explosive first half of a record, my favorite track is square in the middle, titled ‘End of a Spark‘. The guitar hook is sharp and catchy, and Monks’s vocals are at their best, most emphatic, when paired with this particular tune’s lyrics. The stripped down bridge before a powerful finish is what I liked best.

‘End of a Spark’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

The latter half slows a bit, with songs like ‘Gone’ having a bit more texture to them. ‘Big Difference’ and ‘Not Sick’ are the quintessential “big finale” tracks, holding nothing back (the “so wha’d’ya need!” on ‘Not Sick’ is a high point) and in general leaving the listener really satisfied.

An incredibly compact and succinct record, Champ hits its stride from the first note, and there’s hardly a misstep until the last. Its stand-out tracks fit seamlessly into the album for a full 35 minutes of some of the best garage rock I’ve heard in a long time.

Tokyo Police Club – Champ