Every once in a while, the ol’ music collection needs a little sprucing up. Here’s what’s been added to mine so far this year, both new releases and new-to-me treasures.
Dan Mangan + Blacksmith
Vancouver-based Dan Mangan has a couple Junos to his name but he’s new to me. I love the sound of this song, the way the guitar strings ring and the way his voice builds in intensity on the approach to the chorus at the end of every verse. And speaking of verses, check out this lyric to Mouthpiece, the song in the video above: “I want to breathe in all the ashes of the books they tried to burn/I want to feel the pages in my skin and understand the words.” So good. There’s a richness to the whole album and it’s growing on me with each play.
Alert the Medic
Another new-t0-me band, Alert the Medic’s been around since 2006 and released their latest album, The Phantom Moves, about a year ago. Nominated for a handful of East Coast Music Awards for their first two releases, the band was nominated for two 2014 Music Nova Scotia awards, for Group Recording of the Year and Rock Recording of the Year. This song, All Better Now, is the first single from The Phantom Moves, and has a very ’90s feel to it, at least in my ears. It’s fun, it’s catchy, it’s got a great rhythm. I dig.
I’m so late to the Arkells party it’s embarrassing, but the first time I heard “Whistleblower” it blew my mind. Earlier this year the whole catalog was added to my lineup and it’s been delightful learning what I’ve been missing and singing along far too loudly every chance I get. This video is adorable and was released in late March as a fundraising single for both Partners in Health and Plus One, plus it’s fun watching the kids run around and play musician for a little while. For the second time in two weeks, the band recently just released a stripped-down version of a song from their latest album, High Noon, with an orchestral backing, and lead singer Max Kerman’s voice is just outstanding when allowed to take center stage in the more subdued arrangements.
This is a bit of a cheat because this album hasn’t been widely released yet, but there’s a good reason for that — as part of their Pledge campaign, Hollerado offered to write songs for donors at a certain level, and now the album’s 111 songs long. Egad! The first single is infectious. It is catchy as all hell, far poppier and dancier than almost anything else in my playlist, and every time I hear it, there’s no chance sitting still. (Very dangerous to dance in your car while driving, folks, especially when you’re dealing with notoriously bad traffic in the greater Washington, D.C. area.) The story behind this video and song are rather compelling: last year the lead singer, Menno Versteeg, and his wife, Annie Murphy, lost nearly everything when their condo burned down, but they were unharmed. The video features bits and pieces of things that managed to come through the fire unscathed, some of which do not survive the video.
There’s no excuse for The Clash’s London Calling not being in my collection sooner. Let’s just leave it at that.