Monday, December 12, 2005


PWI Radio X

I didn't realize until last night when I was putting the finishing touches on PWI Radio Episode X how much sad music I was listening to this year. My top ten records of the year (which, conveniently, occur right here in Episode 10) include only three or four real rockers and ass shakers. The rest (perhaps in reflection of the kind of year I've had, perhaps simply in reflection of the musical year that was) are more contemplative and slow moving if not downright sad. The records were (just in case you're keeping score at home...and in no particular order this year) Banditas: s/t This does not count as one of 2005's sad records. No, as I said back in May, Liz McDermott R-O-C-K-S. This record is a quickly delivered reminder that passionate indie music that packs an emotional wallop is often better off focusing on factory floor guitars and gruffly barked lyric gripes than wry urban storytelling, dance-able grooves or lush instrumentation. Banditas is like an emotional argument with a confidante; loud, close to the bone and over in a flash. Spoon: Gimmie Fiction Because sometimes wry urban storytelling and danceable grooves are a good thing. In fact, sometimes they're a very VERY good thing. To, in a roundabout way, quote the band, Gimme Fiction is the audio equivalent of St. Vitus' Dance. The Mountain Goats: The Sunset Tree If you've spent even a little bit of time in PWI land, you know by now that I have a borderline-irrational love for the art of John Darnielle. Many writers have focused on the emotional intensity of The Sunset Tree, often by falsely labeling it as an exercise in songwriting "catharthis" (a description Darnielle has repudiated in numerous interviews). Using the language of personal healing to describe this album doesn't only ignore Darnielle's distance from the events that he recounts in songs like Dance Music, This Year and Pale Green Things, but it also pays short shrift to the universal emotional currency and indeed, the beauty, of the songs themselves. No, it's not comfortable to empathise with Darnielle when he recounts drowning out a violent argument between his parents by "Lean(ing) in close to (his) little record player on the floor" but empathise we do if only because, as music lovers, we've all experienced the ability of a song to take us almost physically away from where we're stuck to a place where perspectives change. By sharing his long-sterile terrors in the Sunset Tree, Darnielle has, once again, created art that transforms and transports. Black Mountain: s/t Black Mountain could be the next Zeppelin. Except they'd be a "Canadian 21st Century Indie-rock collective" Zeppelin instead of the old-school "20th-century raping groupies with fish" Zeppelin. Yes, that is a good thing. Iron & Wine: Woman King EP While watching Iron & Wine Thursday night at the Spectrum I came up with a new case of Rock and Roll Math for Sam Beam. Check this out. Sam Beam = The Mountain Goats. The Mountain Goats = <------ The soothing, "everything's gonna be alright" nature of this guy. <--------------- Plus songwriting brilliance <-----Plus beard Nope, not enough beard. More beard! <------- Now thaaaats what I'm talkin' about Some find the records sleepy, though I can understand where that impression comes from, I've felt every Iron and Wine recording to date in the deepest part of my bones. The Woman King EP is no different. Six altogether too brief trips into true musical terroir. I can't wait for the next full length. I'll write about the other five tomorrow. Remember, as always, you can subscribe to the podcast by plunking this address: into your iTunes or iPodder.
Big into the Ottawa bands?
Here's one on the outskirts, hovering under the radar.

These guys aren't playing live at the moment but their diversity inside the rock spectrum is friggin' great!!!

And a weird but cool band name!

I'm all about "diversity inside the rock spectrum." Will check it out.

I think he meant "diversity inside Spock's rectum" ...
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