SOUNDTRACK: THE TRAGICALLY HIP-Now for Plan A (2012).
This is the latest Tragically Hip record and it bounces back from the more country feel of We Are the Same and provides eleven solid rocking songs (two of which are actually ballads and not rocking at all but are still good). ”At Transformation” starts with a big bass notes and some feedback, like an alternative indie rocker, but as soon as Gord Downie’s voice comes in it is unmistakably Hip. This is one of their rockier songs and shows that they are back in fine form.
I recently wrote about “Man Machine” and “Now for Plan A” but I think they both work better in the context of the record. ”Man Machine” contrasts nicely with “At Transformation” and “Plan A” gives the album a chance to relax before the more rocking second half. ”The Lookahead” is the other duet with Sarah Harmer, although I fear she may be a little underutilized here. It’s a great big chorused song that The Hip do so well.
“We Want To Be It” has a recurring “drip drip” section that I find mesmerizing. I like the way drip drip turns into click click and then cricket and how it is alternately whispered and screamed. I’ve never really heard a song where words were used in this way before.
I love the way “About This Map” starts slow but adds a great bridge/chorus that adds a lot of tension. Take Forever” is a straightforward rocker which along with “The Modern Spirit” and “Streets Ahead” really exemplify the modern sound of the Tragically Hip–simple rockers with big choruses and thoughtful lyrics. On the other end of the spectrum, “Done and Done” is a simple ballad that works nicely as the song before the closer. ”Goodnight Attawapiskat” (an aboriginal settlement in Northern Ontario) is the kind of amazing minor key, could-be-an epic that Hip fans always love. It’s scaled down to 4 minutes, but it lets us know that they still have this kind of song in them.
The Hip will never release another record like Fully Completely or Day for Night and while there is something sad about that, it’s nice to see a band evolving and modifying their sound. This album isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it is a solid collection of great songs.
[READ: May 15, 2013] Player One
I didn’t really understand what a CBC Massey Lecture was. It was kind of explained, but I was confused how his lecture would have been a full length novel. And while it is described as a novel in five hours, I doubt his lecture lasted five hours (the story takes place in real time over five hours, but surely no one would have listened to him read for five hours). Well, thanks to Wikipedia: Each of the book’s five chapters was delivered as a one hour lecture in a different Canadian city: Vancouver on October 12, Regina on October 14, Charlottetown on October 19, Ottawa on October 25 and ending in Toronto on October 29. The lectures were broadcast on CBC Radio One’s Ideas, November 8–12. Coupland felt that “a narrative seemed like the most efficient and accessible way of putting forth a large number of propositions about life in the year 2010.”
So this turns out to be a story that takes place over five hours, although like many stories with this conceit there are flashbacks (how could there not be). There are five main characters: Karen, Luke, Rick, Rachel, and Player One. Although Player One is a confusing character who may or may not really exist.
Karen is a divorced mom and has decided to travel across the country (from Winnipeg to Toronto) to meet a man in an airport bar for a possible fling. She’s not proud of it but she thinks, why the hell not–she still feels good about herself. In fact, on the airplane a boy takes some pictures of her with his phone, because she looks pretty hot. And in the last one she gives him the finger. (The whole reality of that–that someone may take a picture of you anywhere for any reason is pretty bizarre). She arrives in the airport bar where she meets Rick, the bartender. (more…)