Music Notes November 2013

November 30, 2013 at 12:33 am (Uncategorized)

Hmm… stocking stuffers anyone?

1. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Damn! Arcade Fire made a dance record. It’s easy to point ot the influence of James Murphy ex of LCD Soundsystem, but the fact is AF have always been interested in big bold statements in their music, and dance music is a bold statement. Like the Anna Calvi record I mention below, it isn’t as immediate as previous releases, but the looping percussion of “Reflektor” pulls you in. Like most double albums, the release can be overwhelming, but I’ve been absorbing it as I drive to work, and I’m settling in very nicely thank you very much.

2. Karen Dalton – In My Own Time

I can only listen to Karen Dalton when my kids aren’t around. They HATE her voice. Admittedly, it’s an acquired taste, but to hear her tackle “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “How Sweet it is” along side such signature songs as “Katie Cruel” is astounding. Her voice is unique. The rawness and authenticity of her sound cuts through both the soul and the folk numbers and creates something incredible. I’m always amazed that artists such as Dalton who have influenced so many are virtually unknown.

3. Anna Calvi – One Breath

One of the mysteries for me listening to Anna Calvi’s first album was with a band of only three people how they could produce such a big sound. Orchestral even. One Breath, the new album which came out in September is no less orchestral. The songs aren’t quite so immediate, but Calvi’s singing and outstanding guitar playing won me over. A worthy successor.

4. Adam and the Ants- Kings of the Wild Frontier

I loved this record when it came out. Sure sure, it alienated a lot of Adam’s fan base, but I wasn’t part of it anyway. A big Gary Glitter drum sound, Duane Eddy guitar and Adam yelping about Native Americans and pirates. When you’re 15, it makes sense, but it got pretty silly soon after. Thirty years on, I realize it was pretty silly then too, but the tunes are mostly fun. This edition adds a few disposable demos.

5. Arson – Not Always About You

My new favourite local band. I mentioned in the Flamin Groovies review, that anyone who hoped for a follow-up to Raw Power or a third Dead boys album needs to own this one. Pure, unabashed rock and roll in all its glory. PLAY LOUD. Oh and catch them live opening for Hugh Cornwall at Lee’s December 15.

6. M.I.A. – Matangi

M.I.A. continues to be a puzzle to me. Noisy beats, a petulant attitude and quite fantastic stuff like the title song and “Bad Girls” (yes Richard, you were right) co-exist on this record. The album sounds to my ears less unified than previous works but maybe this is because of the album was recorded over a longer than usual period of time (“Bad Girls” is two years old) Always worth a listen though.

7. Metric – Old World Underground, Where Are you Now?

Surely you must know the title of the album and the first words sung by Emily Haynes are the same. Great  new wave album now a decade old, but still worth listening too for the punkier tracks like IOU, Combat Baby and Dead Disco. (You might also check out Martha & the Muffins first record)

8. Bad Religion – Christmas Songs

With 9 songs coming in at 19 minutes, it’s true the album feels a little, well, slight, but it’s a fun ride. The band blast through a bunch of Christmas favourites including “White Christmas,” “O come all ye Faithful,” and “Little Drummer Boy.” Part of the proceeds go to Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

9. Alex Chilton- Free Again: “The 1970″ Sessions”

Post-Box Tops, pre-Big Star, Alex Chilton recorded these songs in the summer of 1969. And they are essential for any Chilton fan. Two versions of “Free Again,” Stones and James Brown covers, some serious rock outs and some lovely ballads. This expanded collection also adds some mono versions. Lovely, just lovely.

10. Mojo 20th Anniversary issue

The issue isn’t on any newsstands I can see her, but on-line the issue looks great.; full of self-referential features (I love this stuff – I can’t wait for best of the year issues!) Also includes a 20 song  CD featuring Jack White, Teenage Fanclub. Mercury Rev and many more.

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