Tuesday, 23 September 2014

10 Great Songs About Autumn

Yes it's official. Summer is over for another year. If you've been to Google at all today you'd have seen that it's the first day of Autumn, which I thought was always the 21st. Fall Equinox shit....who knew. It's not as bad as it seems folks, there is plenty of good things about Summer being behind us. Basketball and Hockey seasons are about to begin, Oktober (the best month) finds it's home in the Fall and there is always the comfort of great music. Here are 10 Great Songs About Autumn.

1. "Autumnsong" - Manic Street Preachers

I'm a huge Manic Street Preachers fan, I just haven't haven't heard a song by them that I haven't enjoyed. "Autumnsong" was taken from the album Send Away The Tigers and was released in 2007. Whether this song is actually about Autumn or not, it's the first one that popped in my head when I thought up the theme...so it's the first on this list

2. "Autumn Sweater" - Yo La Tengo

I know what you're saying...did I just search for songs with "Autumn" in it's title? Well no I didn't, dinkhole. Yo La Tengo are another one of those great 90's groups that didn't receive the credit they deserved. "Autumn Sweater" was the first song I heard by them. I love the vibe and slow, crawling vocal style of Ira Kaplan and it was one of the first times the band experimented with a techno influence. I'd say it was successful.

3. "Indian Summer" - Beat Happening

Indian Summer is the name given to that time of year when it gets unseasonably warm in the Fall months from September to November. It's notable because it often happens after we've already been scraping frost off of our cars. The song by Beat Happening has been called the "Knocking on Heaven's Door" of indie rock, because of all the different cover versions that have been released by bands in the scene, like Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Luna to name a few.

4. "In September" - Hayden

Hayden is one of Canada's finest folk-oriented singer/songwriters. A career spanning three decades and 7 albums, he's earned accolades and praise from almost every Canadian media outlet. I am proud to have shaken his hand and given him a copy of my shitty demo CD. Hayden's demo CD, well tape I guess back them, was called In September where the title track closely resembled a grungy alt-rock anthem, far from his current folk style.

5.  "Harvest Breed" - Nick Drake

Almost all of Nick Drake's songs have that feel. Walking through a small, quiet English town. A tweed jacket buttoned up to your chin. A little chill on your nose. The sky is grey and the leaves are painted in colours of orange, red and yellow. While any song on Drake's perfect album Pink Moon could be your soundtrack, "Harvest Breed" is a pretty little ode to the under appreciated Fall season.

6. "Season Of The Witch" - Donovan

Often viewed as the first psychedelic songs released, "Season Of The Witch" was a bit of a departure for the usually folk-infused Donovan. The song featured Jimmy Page on guitar, "Fast" Eddie Hoh on drums and rumours swirled that John Paul Jones played the organ. Simply adding to the mystique of this already intriguing song.

7. "Yer Fall" - Hey Rosetta!

Hey Rosetta! is a Indie Rock group from the East coast of Canada. St. John's Newfoundland to be more specific. Though they've been releasing music since 2007 they didn't get nationwide exposure until Seeds was released in 2011. "Yer Fall" is a pretty, love song painted against the backdrop of a textbook Autumn day.

8. "Halloweenhead" - Ryan Adams

Hey Halloween falls at the end of October and what season is October in? Fall! The song describes all the typical things someone would be seeing around that time of year even if it's actually describing someone's struggle with addiction. It comes off of Adams' critically acclaimed album Easy Tiger released in 2007, which in my opinion is a must own for any serious music lover.

9. "October" - Broken Bells

Broken Bells are an Indie-Techno supergroup featuring Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) and James Mercer (Lead singer of The Shins). Their song "October" is a perfect fit for the not-too-hot not-too-cold season of Autumn.

10. "Autumn's Here" - Hawksley Workman

Another famed Canadian, Workman got his start in the Muskoka region of Ontario before moving south to Toronto to take his career to new heights. Almost an indescribable sound and no real genre distinction makes Hawksley Workman a refreshing artist on today's sometimes pale landscape. "Autumn's Here" describes perfectly the feeling of those Summer lovers who wish it's warm embrace would never retreat from the Northern territories. Hawksley is great at lamenting universal emotions.

Thanks for reading!

Look for a big list coming up soon and let's all enjoy ROCKTOBER!!!


Thursday, 11 September 2014

10 Great "House" Songs

Feeling basic this time around. No this isn't 10 songs from the house genre, nor is it songs from the TV show House. Just ten songs about houses or named after them. Any kind of house. Outhouse, doghouse, lighthouse or brick-shit house. 10 Great "House" Songs.

1. Phish - "Farmhouse"

This song is pretty atypical for Phish who are primarily known for their experimental, jazz-fused jam band style of alt rock. "Farmhouse" is chill track with a slight country groove. From the album of the same name it was recorded at Phish's front man Trey Anastasio's Vermont studio known as The Barn. Maybe thats where the vibe came from.

2. Blur - "Country House"

To the other side of the pond we go and find the band once known as Seymour. After they got signed to Food records in 1989 the record company brought along a list of suggested names to rechristen their band as. Though it was near the bottom of the list, they decided on Blur and became one of the UK's best selling bands of the 90's.

3. The Animals - "House Of The Rising Sun"

Fun Fact! If it ever so happens you find yourself in the position to release an album of songs and want a surefire hit, you might consider recording a version of "The House Of The Rising Sun". It's considered public domain as it's origins are from so long ago that it's not quite definite who wrote it. Therefore if you put your own unique tinge on it, you won't have to pay royalties!

4. The Rapture - "House Of Jealous Lovers"

A funky, cow-bell drenched rock song from Pitchfork media's 2003 album of the year Echoes, "House Of Jealous Lovers: was this New York band's biggest hit. A great track that definitely deserves more attention.

5. They Might Be Giants - "Birdhouse In Your Soul"

They Might Be Giants were known for writing and releasing catchy, quirky songs about a variety of subjects. "Birdhouse In Your Soul" is sung from the perspective of a bird-shaped nightlite.  I ain't making this up people. Great song though.

6.  Metallica - "The House Jack Built"

From 1996's Load "The House Jack Built" is one of those Metallica songs that gets stuck in your head and you find yourself repeating the chorus over and over even though you aren't sure where you heard it. Not sure exactly which house they're referencing here, though I think it has to do with the soul and human condition.

7.  Anthrax - "Madhouse"

Let us go even further back into the heavy metal annals and dig up Anthrax's "Madhouse". A hair metal onslaught, but one full of energy and face-melting guitar squeals. "Madhouse" indeed.

8. Madness - "Our House"

Though Madness were one of the UK's biggest groups of the 70's and 80's they didn't garner much attention in North America. Their biggest hit here was "Our House" and it's video saw virtually constant play on MTV in 1983.

9.  Big Wreck - "Under The Lighthouse"

Can't leave any kind of house untouched. "Under The Lighthouse" is a delightful song from Canada's rock powerhouse Big Wreck. After releasing 2 albums in the late 90's and early 2000's they took a hiatus until 2012. That year's Albatross saw Big Wreck fans everywhere sigh a breath of relief when Big Wreck showed us all that the break didn't cramp their infectious style.

10. Mark Lanegan - "Riot In My House"

Mark Lanegan is a legendary name around the Seattle music scene. A founding member of The Screaming Trees, Lanegan would also go on to join the Queens Of The Stone Age, work with Isobel Campbell and have a very impressive solo career.  "Riot In My House" is from his 2012 album Blues Funeral which earned very positive reviews and took him on a tour that spanned over 20 countries.

I know it was simple and basic.

But didn't want y'all to think I had blown it off

Send some suggestions! Let's get ready for Rocktober!!


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

10 Great Songs About Working

Jobs, bosses, the daily grind. Work. Everybody does it in one shape or another. Whether it's a career you own or merely a place you go for 40 hours a week that pays the bills, there is no reason to feel shame. It's a war that everyone must wage. The war of work. I originally conceived this post as a list of songs that are about telling off your boss and making a huge scene as you quit your job. It eventually morphed into simply a list of songs about working. Here are 10 great ones.

1. "Sons Of Hostage Life" - Hostage Life

"Train took forever at Union Station" haha such a great channeling of the frustration that comes from working the 9 to 5 in a huge city. Hostage Life were an explosive punk group from Toronto. Union Station is the city's Grand Central. This song works as such a great release for those people who countdown the minutes at the end of the work day and just cut loose after five O'clock. Sadly Hostage Life played their last show in 2009, but if you can find a copy of their debut Walking Papers, I highly recommend you pick it up.

2. "Layin' Pipe" - David Wilcox

Wilcox has crafted a great song here about not only following in a family's labouring footsteps, but a man's struggle to keep a gold digging woman by his side. Physically demanding work, night shifts and Union dues are a lyrical diamond here. Hmmm? You say the title "Layin' Pipe" could refer to something a little more blue than an overnight shift on a construction site? Nahhh can't be...

3. "Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee" - Canibus

Office Space is perhaps the best film ever made about the American work day. With such a relatable subject it's no surprise that the main theme, provided by rapper Canibus, is an extension of the American dream in a song called "Shove This Jay-Oh-Bee". It's an obvious homage to the David Allen Coe song "Take This Job And Shove It" and lives out the fantasies of a lowly office worker telling off his boss.

4. "Civil Twilight" - The Weakerthans

From Winnipeg here we have The Weakerthans. "Civil Twilight" is a great song that is sung from the perspective of a city transit worker. It makes reference to Confusion Corner which is a well known intersection in Metropolitan Winnipeg that is notoriously difficult to navigate thanks to various ramps and turning lanes.

5. "My Music At Work" - The Tragically Hip

In the 90's and early 2000's The Tragically Hip were on a tear releasing albums. In 2000 they released Music @ Work, and though it only spawned one single (the title track), it has become one of their most well known songs. Bruce McCulloch from the Kids In The Hall directed the video.

6. "Allentown" - Billy Joel

So far 4 of the 5 songs have been by Canadian artists...hmmm think we work too much up here? But that's nothing compared to the struggle many people endured after coming back from the Vietnam war or being children of Second World War veterans and trying to enter the suffering and overcrowded workforce in many parts of the US. To shed a little light on that subject here's sh'boy Bill Joel and "Allentown"

7. "Re-Education Through Labor" - Rise Against

For another jolt of blunt realism here are punk rock commentators Rise Against with an anthem for those who had dreams far beyond the demands of society and their lifestyle afforded them. "Re-Education Through Labor" has some great lines in it like "The engine roars and then it gives, but never dies 'cuz we don't live we just survive on the scraps you throw away". A great testamonial to many people doing the day-in day-out of modern life in the western world.

8. "Boiled Frogs" - Alexisonfire

Alexisonfire's singer George Pettit's father worked for a company that designed refrigerator parts. as he neared retirement the company seemed to be trying to get him to forfeit his pension and constantly reviewing his own position. It reminded the band about an old analogy of the workforce. If you put a frog in boiling water it will jump out immediately, but put that frog in warm water and slowly raise the temperature to boiling the same frog won't jump out. Our lives flash before our eyes before we even realize it.

9. "A Hard Day's Night" - The Beatles

Perhaps the best known song about working is The Beatle's "A Hard Day's Night". Leave it to the Beatles to spin even a song about working a grueling job into one about a girl. Serious one track minds.

10. "She Works Hard For Her Money" - Donna Summer

In what would go down as one of the Disco era's greatest hits, Donna Summer also created an anthem for the women in the workforce movement of the 70's and 80's. She was inspired to write this song after seeing a waitress at a cafe asleep on a table through an open door. When the waitress was startled awake she explained that she worked a day and night job to make ends meet. The exchange made Summer think to herself that the waitress worked really hard for her money. The song practically wrote itself.