Monday, October 11, 2010

What was I thankful for this year?

...These songs!

I can definitely say that my long weekend home was a great success. It was everything I love about the holiday - sunny, leafy, relaxed, busy, filled with laughs and filled with love. The drive home was different, seeing as I took the bus in the daytime, but my Thanksgiving playlist still managed to perfectly compliment the autumn backdrop. The trees were full of life, that's for sure. I was treated to layers upon layers of harvest colours and a crisp blue, cloudless sky...doesn't get much better than that. Here's what I kicked my feet up to during this year's drive:


1. I Taught Myself How to Grow - Ryan Adams: Off of Adams' nearly perfect 2007 album Easy Tiger, the closing song is undeniably timeless. It represents the type of profound sound and meaning that makes him arguably one of the best North-American songwriters of my generation (if not the best). This sleepy country song is proof - not only are his lyrics poetic and relateable ("I taught myself how to grow without any love and there was poison in the rain") but his slow use of cowboy instruments make each note hit home. The harmonica in this song really does stop time, weighing heavy on any listener.

I Taught Myself How to Grow - Ryan Adams


Harriet Wheeler looking coy
2. Wild Horses - The Sundays: This cover re-appeared into my life only recently, but let it be known that this version and I have had a love affair for almost a decade. I, like most other kids, was introduced to The Stones at an early age - and always had an affinity for "Wild Horses", one of the slower tracks from 1971's Sticky Fingers. It's been covered a silly amount of times, most of the time really not doing anything for me. But, when I was about 13 years-old, I stumbled upon The Sundays' cover and was naturally intrigued that an English female-fronted 80s band would cover it (I figured it would be sappy and pathetic - it wasn't). Lead singer Harriet Wheeler has a rich, sweet voice that can do just about anything. She took the song up several octaves to a U2-esque, vocally impressive place. The original couldn't and shouldn't be replicated, so I love that she stripped it down to it's very basics, making the new focus her milky smooth pipes. Wild Horses - The Sundays

3. Homesick - The Vines:  Ah, the Vines. Remember them? A bunch of tipsy, messy Aussies throwing their guitars around stage like hooligans? That they were - but they also had some great moments during the reintroduction of punk-garage-rock in the early millenium. I can't really say I know what these guys are talking about in this song (aside from being Homesick, duh)...but damn, is it ever pretty. Their British-invasion sounding harmonies are a selling-point in this atmospheric ballad. The droning guitar and music-box piano that closes the song shows why they were one of the bands attributed to the 1960s rock-revival that happened around the time of this album. Listen for the gorgeous guitar and Thunderclap Newman similarities in the song's final moments - they really pull off the vintage sound.

Homesick - The Vines

4.  All to All - Broken Social Scene: Where do I begin? This song is precious. It was performed this summer at the Toronto Island Music Festival, and I suddenly heard it in a different way than I had when I first picked up Forgiveness Rock Record - the latest from one of Canada's most extroardinary rock collectives. This ambient track is uplifting but mysterious, and lead by the fresh and dreamy vocal abilities of the newest addition to the already-stacked BSS gang, Lisa Lobsinger. When I saw it live, the sun was setting, Lobsinger was practically motionless at the front and centre of the stage, and the crowd was still as the warm breeze carried her voice over our heads. All to All - Broken Social Scene

* All to All (Toronto Island Music Festival performance)


The Kid himself
5. The Prayer - Kid Cudi:  I came into the Kid Cudi scene a little later than most for some reason. Oh, that's right, I know why - because "Day n' Nite" was my first experience with him. After hearing that song I wasn't exactly turned on to the idea of an entire album of his music - sue me. But, that being said, I retract my initial hesitation about him, because Cudi is catchy. And, Cudi is, in fact, different. So different that I can't figure him out. Sometimes he is just another mindless, play-dumb rapper that unfortunately occupies the mainstream airwaves nowadays. However, I hear shades of insighftfulness and depth in some of his tracks. Not only in his choice of infectious background melodies, but also in his rhymes. Exhibit A: "Tell me what you know about the night terrors - nothing." What do YOU know about the night terrors Kid Cudi? Tell us, now we're intrigued. It seems like he has a little something to say and I feel that's the case in this song, which geniously samples the song the "The Funeral" by some of my main men, Band of Horses. He once again touches on the themes of life and death, making us wonder if Cudi has more demons than the rest of his more "typical" comparisons. The Prayer - Kid Cudi

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