Song of the Day: Tony Molina, Nothing I Can Say

Posted on by Gary in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

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If brevity is the soul of wit, then the extremely brief album Kill the Lights from Tony Molina might be the wittiest kid on the block. At once fulfilling yet incomplete by design, it doesn’t just leave you wanting more folksy harmonies and miniature refrains, it positively asks you to look for more – like a purposeful intro to a long Pandora session.

“Nothing I Can Say”, the first of 10 minute-long Lego® Folk-Songs® (they even managed to include fade outs on several songs), is likely the most ear-catching. The only issue is that with so little timing separation, I find it difficult to manage the emotional feedback cycle. At the point when the jangling guitars return upon “Give He Take You”, I had over-shot and under-shot the tunes 6 times and became stuck on somewhat ambivalent, even though the music itself is well-crafted. So, it’s a nice experiment. But I would disperse them into your playlist and listen individually for best effects.

The Lost Art Of Liner Notes: Country Chart-Busters Volume 5 (1974, Columbia Records)

Posted on by Paul in Albums, Classic Albums | Leave a comment

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After a lengthy break from writing about liner notes written on the back covers of random old LPs, our Lost Art of Liner Notes series returns as I make my way through a bounty of ten cent records I acquired on a recent record shopping expedition.

Today we take a look at a record which featured a minimal amount of liner notes – the fifth edition of a country music compilation series entitled Country Chart-Busters. So why write about the liner notes when they don’t really say that much, you may ask? Well folks, they do say that a picture is worth a thousand words but for the picture that accompanies the liner notes on the back cover of this album … well, really there are no words. See for yourself:
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Can’t sleep … clown will eat me.

Why someone though it would be a good idea to include a grainy photo of some creepy-as-hell clown on a collection of country hits I have no idea. While the front cover is a jovial, old timey depiction of three country musicians somehow managing to ride a horse simultaneously while standing up and holding guitars, the back cover is pure nightmare fuel from way out of left field. Is he supposed to be a rodeo clown or is he some ghoul who will murder you in your sleep while the sounds of Johnny Paycheck and Barbara Mandrell play softly in the background? Or worse yet, is he Crazy Joe Davola?

Anyways, read the liner notes below while trying to figure out who thought this was a good design idea and whether they got to keep their job after this was released. And then try to scrub this horrific image from your memory forever. The sweet sounds of Lynn Anderson may help in that regard.

The most amazing thing about Country Chart-Busters, Vol. V is that all of these songs are on one album. ten of the biggest stars in the World of Country performing the classics that have made country music what it is today. Songs like “Kids Say The Darndest Things” by Country Queen Tammy Wynette, Lynn Anderson’s “Fool Me” and “Nice ‘N’ Easy” by the fastest rising star in country music, Charlie Rich. Stars like Sonny James, Freddy Weller, Connie Smith, Barbara Mandrell, Jody Miller, David Houston and Johnny Paycheck make Country Chart-Busters Vol. V an album worth writing home about. There’s only one way you’ll ever hear such amazing talent performing material of such outstanding caliber and you’re holding it in your hands.

Song of the Day: Meg Myers – Tear Me to Pieces

Posted on by Gary in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

There are a few songs in recent memory that had me naturally reach for max volume (“The Apple” from VV Brown was one). Meg Myers’ new album Take Me to The Disco contains a good number of hugely cathartic songs, such as “Numb”, but “Tear Me to Pieces” may be the most potent of the bunch.

Starting off from a short double segment of metronome pace and robotic enunciation, it hits its human stride very quickly. Myers green-lights huge distortions and hits the top speed in less than 1 bar with a volcanic eruption of emotions – but one that is viscously restrained to repeatedly explode again and again later on (OK so a rhyolytic volcano).

Her voice is piercing, always angry and weary. This is definitely a product of the times. If it had been the liberal golden age of 2008, one might transmute this anger to the background track of an aggressive automobile commercial and be done with it. In the illiberal shackles of today, this is clearly a more urgent call to action. In fact her whole album and video carries that consistent theme. It’s a strong effort, and signs of better things to come.

Concert Review: St. Vincent, July 31, Sony Centre

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

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It’s impressive to see how much St. Vincent has progressed since she first played the Horseshoe just ten years ago. Perhaps one of the few truly unique artists in the music world today, every St. Vincent release has come with a different vision, theme and ultimately, live show. The anticipation for the live show on her Fear the Future tour was high and with good reason – her fifth album Masseduction is her most successful album, charting in the top 10 on Billboard.

I actually saw St. Vincent at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival two days prior to her Toronto show, so this review is kind of like an amalgamation of both. Since we just loooooove amalgamation here in Toronto, right?

The thing about St. Vincent shows are … they are shows. It’s a meticulously designed affair, where all the musicians are dressed a certain way, move a certain way and basically have to hit all the visual and lighting queues at the right time. Each song has a certain design and a certain look and as an audience, you are merely there to witness the spectacle. I think St. Vincent shows have been like this for awhile and this  contributes to the overall aesthetic of the band.

As you can see, this time around, the band was set up in a Kraftwerk-ish formation (according to Frank from Chromewaves, who still manages to post music news all the time) with Annie Clark on the far side of the stage. Most of the set consisted of them moving about in this confined space, with Annie occasionally doing that robot guitar player dance that she probably learned from David Byrne. Visually, it was really pretty but the distance from the crowd made me feel like there was a bit of an emotional disconnect between artist and people. St. Vincent has always been more of a technical concert vs an emotional one, and this one was no different I guess.

Soundwise, the music was great. Masseduction and her self titled album both elevated St. Vincent’s game in terms of production and crispness and it shows. New and old tracks like “Los Ageless”, “Pills”, “Digital Witness” and the recently redone “Fast Slow Disco” had the crowd moving. One could argue the crowd might have moved more with a rawer, more visceral, organic performance but it was the Sony Centre, so who knows.

The centrepiece of the set was a lovely version of “New York”, arguably one of St. Vincent’s best tracks, that came with some Toronto based ad-libbing that also finally provided some interaction between band and crowd. It was a nice movement before the hit single. Probably a highlight for most during the show. If you want more information on that show, I highly, highly recommend listening to the Song Exploder podcast for it.

All in all, this was my seventh time seeing St. Vincent, each time having been a totally different experience and for that, I am appreciative.