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Archive for the ‘Souvenir of Canada’ Category

socSOUNDTRACK: TINDERSTICKS-The Hungry Saw [CST055] (2008).

hungryIt was the releases of this Tindersticks disc (their first in 5 years) on the venerable Constellation Records (in North America) that inspired my trip through their back catalog. I was completely surprised to see them released on Constellation, as the band doesn’t exactly fit with the label’s stereotypical style (although, realistically with the last dozen or so releases, Constellation has really expanded the kind of music they release).

And this is a fantastic Tindersticks release!  There’s not a bad song on the disc. And, even though nothing is as immediately gripping as say “Can We Start Again,” the disc contains some of the band’s strongest songs.  “The Hungry Saw” is simply amazing, both lyrically and in its catchy (yet creepy) chorus.  But the highlight is probably “Boobar, Come Back to Me,” a song that begins slowly and builds gloriously, including a call and response segment that makes this song really swagger.

“Mother Dear” features a strangely comical musical episode.  In an otherwise very mellow piano based track, right in the middle of the song, come slashing, somewhat atonal guitar chords.  It’s as if a more rocking song is trying to overtake the mellow track.  (The coup is rebuffed, though).

The biggest thing to note about the disc is that longtime co-songwriter Dickon has left the band.  And so, some of the co-writing duties have been taken up by David Boulter.  While it is obviously sad that Dickon has left, Staples seems revitalized on this disc, and Boulter’s additions (especially his quirky instrumentals) bring a new point of view to the proceedings.  Also of note is something of a return to the orchestral style (albeit a much more understated version).  However, different songs emphasize different aspects: horns on one, strings on another, but always underscored by the ubiquitous Hammond organ.

It’s not a radical departure or anything like that.  It’s more of a continuation after a well earned vacation.  And it’s certainly their strongest release since their first four.

[READ & WATCHED: October 2009] Souvenir of Canada, Souvenir of Canada 2 & Souvenir of Canada (the movie)

I got the first Souvenir of Canada when it came out.  (I was on a big Coupland kick and may have even bought it in Montreal).  I didn’t get #2 when it came out, probably because I didn’t really invest a lot of effort into the first one.  But after recently reading City of Glass, I wanted to get a little more involved in Coupland’s visual art.  So, I picked up #2 and, while investigating this second book, I discovered that he had made a film of the books, too.

Coupland explains in the introduction that this book is his personal vision of what Canada is like. It is designed for Canadians as something of a nostalgia trip, but it is also something of an introduction to unseen Canada for non-Canadians.  And so, what you don’t get is pictures of mounties and Tim Hortons and other things that fit the stereotypical Canadian bill. Rather, you get things that are significant to Coupland (and maybe the average Canadian born on the West Coast in the 60s). (more…)

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glassSOUNDTRACK: DANKO JONES-Never Too Loud (2008).

dankoDanko Jones is a hard and fast rock band, with a one track mind and a straightforward sound.  They deal in excessive cliches (album titles include: Sleep is the Enemy, We Sweat Blood, Never Too Loud, etc) and play mostly short songs.  And despite all that apparent negativity, I enjoy them beyond reason.

Their first full length was a compilation of their early EPs, and it was full of outrageously short songs about big dumb sex (a bunch of the tracks were under two minutes).  Danko’s voice sounds a but like Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy, to give a frame of reference.

Never Too Loud, despite the name, actually changes their style a little bit.  He throws in a ballad (!), and he’s got one song “Take Me Home” which reminds me an awful lot of Kid Rock.   And songs like “King of Magazines” and “Forest for the Trees” similarly slow the pace down (Forest for the Trees is even 6 minutes long!).  But despite all that, Danko still rocks hard.

And yes, I admit that lyrically the disc isn’t ground breaking (“Still in High School” tends to sum up a lot of the themes here), but I don’t care.  Sometimes it’s fun to just rock out.  And Danko rocks with the best of them.

[READ: October 14, 2009] City of Glass

Douglas Coupland is from Vancouver.  And this book (and the revised edition) is like a love letter to the city (although he describes it as a personalized guide book).

When he first published this in 2000, Coupland had been experimenting with things other than novels, but this was the first book he released that was primarily photography (not his own, mind you).  He mixes photos of Vancouver landmarks as well as stock photos to illustrate the varied and multicultural life of Vancouver.

He also includes alphabetically titled texts in which he writes about a paragraph or two or three about the topic.  Most of these are personal insights into the city.  It’s not a work of fiction or even a collection of essays.  It’s more like love notes about this city. (more…)

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