Sunday, January 22, 2012


One of my favourite trends in recent years is the multi artist tribute album in honour of a specific album, often including the same track sequencing as the original LP.   There have been some great LP tribute compilations circulating on a number of sites, the most notable and prolific being on Stereogum.

Often there are a few missteps, but in general these compilations offer a chance to appreciate the totality of a classic album, filtered through the many artists who have been indelibly influenced or inspired by it.

In the age of digital abundance and quick access to music files the idea of a complete album may seem like an anachronism to many people. It is refreshing therefore to see artists paying homage to this form and perhaps inadvertently encouraging others to experience an album as a complete piece of art, with the songs being considered in relation to each other rather than in isolation.

As an added bonus many of these tribute comps are available as legitimately sanctioned and free downloads. This in my mind increases the significance of these; while there is certainly some promotional benefits for the artists and publications involved it also speaks to the pure joy of an artist sharing their personal love of a recording that shaped their own musical journey.

These tributes often work best when they have a more diverse range of artists and include a healthy balance between reinvention and stripped down simplicity. A degree of playfulness with the source material that enhances it's core elements is also welcomed as well. In my mind, a successful tribute comp will inspire me to delve back into the original album with a renewed sense of wonder.

A few recent offerings I have enjoyed lately are the Stereogum tribute to Radiohead's "OK Computer", and the Q Magazine tribute to U2's "Achtung Baby" (with the phonetically enhanced title "AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered").  I am also eager to get my hands on a tribute to New Order's classic album "Power, Corruption & Lies" once the latest issue of Mojo makes it's way across the pond (worth the cover price of the mag).

Have any tribute albums inspired your imagination? Most importantly, what classic album in your mind deserves a fitting tribute? Kudos to anyone inspired enough to name which artists they would like to see covering a specific track. Personally, I would love to hear Cat Power cover The Cure's "Disintegration" on the tribute LP of the same name.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Can you relate to the following symptomology;
  • your heart rate quickens 
  • sudden inexplicable euphoria
  • difficulty keeping track of time
  • fixation on circular objects
  • intense craving for auditory stimuli
Fear not, for you are not alone.  I also experience a sense of awe, wonder and mood elevation upon entering the threshold of a place that still sells physical music.  The symmetrical rows of vinyl and CDs send me into a giddy tailspin of manic joy. 

 Each vinyl treasure or hard to find CD is like an artifact waiting to be unearthed and explored. I am frequently guilty of tearing open the packaging before I get home in order to try and unlock some of the secrets found within, throwing any restraint or sense of delayed gratification out the window. I am often convinced each time that there is something revelatory in the liner notes that warrants immediate perusal.

In this age of digital abundance this experience can even be more meaningful. As our connection to physical objects becomes increasingly tenuous there is something special about something that is as context specific and multifaceted as an LP; the potential for auditory, tactile and aesthetic interaction from one object can be very gratifying.

It's a simple pleasure, the power of which shouldn't be dismissed or underestimate from my point of view.  My record purchasing sojourns aren't as common as they used to be, but when they do happen I experience a sense of joy over the promise of something that is at times quite magical.

Do you experience any symptoms?

(a big ol' shout-out to fine folks at Yep Roc Records for posting this Peanuts comic strip and providing further inspiration)

    Monday, January 9, 2012


    I had the privilege this past October to host an evening social with some wonderful people, some of whom I had met previously via a mutual love of music through various blogs and social media.  I was also fortunate to be acquainted with some fine new folks as well that night.

    To me the best part of the evening was the sacred rite of passing the iPad around to take turns selecting songs (connected remotely to my digital library) resulting in a collectively curated playlist that evolved throughout the evening.

    As the evening progressed stories were shared of what was behind each song choice (thanks to the persistent bidding of  Sean Wraight). It felt like the 21st century version of passing the talking stick around the campfire, though in this case we didn't have to be worried about being eaten by wild animals.

    There were tales behind many of the songs or anecdotes that in the tellers mind was inextricably connected to their chosen track. Many of the stories were humorous and even touching at times, revealing tiny snapshots of the spark in each person present that evening. It was a wonderful and inspiring experience.

    In the spirit of this I hope to facilitate an ongoing virtual version of this sacred rite by doing a series on this blog called "songs have stories", where I hope many songs and the stories behind them will be connected or shared.  I am curious to see what commonalities or themes emerge around certain songs.

    More to come!

    (A big shout-out to Barbara Bruederlin who was the force behind Communique 2011 and made this event happen)

    Sunday, January 8, 2012


    It usually starts when we are very young. We are drawn to a sound that leaves a mark on our impressionable young psyche and we are forever changed.

    The music we hear embeds itself into our neural pathways and opens new doors filled with possibility. We discover new aural landscapes that stimulate the brain and we pursue them with a ravenous appetite.

    Music brings us together as we form our identity as young people. Based on the rhythms that inspire us we band together in tightly woven tribes. We develop a significant portion of our emotional vocabulary from the words and sounds that play out constantly in the background like an unfolding drama without resolution.

    As we grow older the musical palette expands. We increasingly value diversity, yet in an honest moment we will default to certain preferences that will never let go of us. Certain sounds will always be sacred and will provide us with a sensory experience that defies rational explanation.

    There are moments when we are taken outside of ourselves and out of linear time and to a place where the only thing that matters is the warm sound that envelopes us. Perhaps it is one of the few things that induces that state of awe and wonderment that can be increasingly elusive in our day to day lives.

    No erudite criticism or rating albums on a ten point scale here. I am starting this blog charged with a restless creativity and a drive to explore more about the purely subjective experience and response I have to the music that inspires me.

    So it begins, again...