City & Colour – If I Should Go Before You: A Transformative Work

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Dallas Green may have started City and Colour as a means to introduce his ‘rootsy’ brand of song craft, but those days are now more of an ‘origin story’ than the reality of where he is. Much like Wilco, who turned from alt-country to sonic experimenters, Green took his acoustic-based leanings and is now creating expansive tunes that, at times, owe more to blues, soul and even psychedelia than the modern ‘folk rock’ he was labeled with on earlier City and Colour records.

Signs of this transformation began on the last album The Hurry And The Harm, with a more conventional, harder edge brought in with the addition of electric guitars and organs. If I Should Go Before You not only expands on this addition, but takes on some new influences.

Opening the record is a nine minute blues epic “Woman” which mixes Muddy Waters with Pink Floyd and throws in a 60’s San Francisco twist. The result is a ‘listen with headphones’ dreamscape that shows his bands’ ability to improvise around their material. “Northern Blues” has subtle R&B underpinnings keeping a sonic improvisation steady as Green’s falsetto soars above.

Musically, this ‘Memphis soul base’ is played out on what would seem to be perfect for the two sides of a vinyl record. “If I Should Go Before You”, “Killing Time”, and the frickin’ amazing single “Wasted Love” finish off the R&B influenced ‘Side A.’ Even the sudden stop of “Wasted Love” on the songs’ conclusion gives definition to a change in direction. In a manner of speaking, it is the point when you flip the record.

‘Side B’ takes on tones that have their foundation in roots-rock, starting with “Runaway”, a song that recalls Blue Rodeo’s “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” with its majestic pedal steel guitar. From there, you move onto “Lover Come Back” with its blend of piano and organ which creates an atmosphere reminiscent of The Band.

The most appealing thing about If I Should Go Before You is that all the influences are merely reference points. Like most great, or even classic records, the listener finds a connection that resonates with a familiar sound, and then the music branches off into new and exciting places.

If I Should Go Before You isn’t just another City and Colour record… it’s a transformative work; the album when all potential and expectations are realized and then exceeded.

 

If I Should Go Before You hits stores on Oct 9.

Terra Lightfoot – Every Time My Mind Runs Wild

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Every so often something comes along that just smacks you in the head with something so freaking unexpected you look for a house number on the cave you’ve been sleeping in. Perhaps it’s a debut album, an opening act you had never heard of before, or, as is the case for me, you just quite plainly arrived late to the party. Whatever the case, Terra Lightfoot has just lit the light bulb above my cranium and I’m hitting my forehead with that big “a-ha” moment.

What seems most remarkable is just how many influences pop out all at once. A foot in the Chicago blues, another in Memphis soul, and then she puts a third one in Nashville. The result is a combustible and full out gritty rock ‘n’ roll album. You can accuse me of being over the top here, but Every Time My Mind Runs Wild could give the Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color a run for my favourite record of the year.

Opening with a bluesy number in “All Alone” she quickly shifts gears blasting into a couple all out rockers with “No Hurry” and “Never Will;” which is just the opening salvo in the record that continues to toss song after song of great roots rock. Then, just as you think you’ve figured her out, she slows down again to take on countrified ballads that sound like they were recorded in Big Pink.

Ultimately, I’m just hoping that her music gets heard beyond the southern Ontario base she calls home. Every Time My Mind Runs Wild is the kind of album that reminds me of what drove me towards being a music geek in the first place; a connection to music that demands me to play it over and over until I wear both the vinyl and needle out.

Better Late Than Expensive! or Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood

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One of my disappointments from Record Store Day 2015 was the absence of the promised Neko Case and her incredible Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. No one seemed to have it and if ever there was a record that was meant to be put on vinyl – this is it. I mean cripes, her backing musicians on this record include members of The Band, Giant Sand, Calexico and The Sadies. So imagine my feeling when I see a tweet from one of my favorite record stores stating it just arrived, days after RSD15. Well a quick phone call and a drive later, this beautiful piece of red vinyl spins on the turntable. Originally released in 2006, I have no idea how many vinyl copies were pressed, but it couldn’t have been many as the current surge in vinyl sales had yet to happen. It was re-released two years later in the U.S. with a gatefold cover in blue vinyl. I couldn’t find official information on how many were produced (although I saw a number of only 500 on a resale site) with a current asking price of over $200.00.

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In 2009, a Canadian release of Fox Confessor Brings The Flood came out. It seems that 25 test pressings hit the streets as well as an undetermined amount on red vinyl. It is likely that it was another 500, but again, I couldn’t find any official figure. In fact I couldn’t even find any for sale, although record sites and chat rooms sure had a lot of people hunting for it.

Anyway, it’s been six years and there were more than a few people waiting to get this record. It is once again in red vinyl, includes a download card and a special RSD turntable slipmat.

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Well – RUN PEOPLE!!!! Call your local record store and see if they have it. The e-bay users are already asking more than $70.00 and you shouldn’t pay that. Pick it up from a local retailer for one third that price.

Insanity Blooms Eternal – April 19/15 Playlist

“Just One Of The Guys” – Jenny Lewis

This was a 7” I had a friend pick up for me on Black Friday/RSD 2014, but I only got it yesterday. It was nice to spin.

“Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” – Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Was having a bit of a difficult beginning to my week after visiting a cemetery to pay a visit to… well, anyway, it got me very reflective. This song and the next popped into my head.

“It Makes No Difference” – My Morning Jacket

Out of context but the sentiment and conclusions loan themselves to mourning, so I just wrapped myself in a cocoon of sad music for a couple days and rode the whole thing out.

“Like A Daydream” – Ride

RSD 2015 find. It was a glorious day and now I’m spinning it… it’s going to be another great day!

“Dumb” – Nirvana

Was reading the interview with Francis Bean last week when this song came up and was popped right into my head.

“Bohemian Like You” – The Dandy Warhols

Another RSD 2015 find, although this song wasn’t on it… just wanted to hear it after playing the earlier album.

“Stratford-On-Guy” – Liz Phair

Another interview I found myself reading, it was interesting to hear her perspective… on so many different things.

“The Denial Twist” – White Stripes

Yes! Get Behind Me Satan was released on vinyl – finally! It will be spinning later today.

“Milk Cow Blues” – The Kinks

The b-side to “You Really Got Me” which was another of yesterdays finds.

“Ride On Josephine” – George Thorogood & the Destroyers

Currently spinning on the turntable, I’ll have a full story on this later in the week.

“State Trooper” – Bruce Springsteen

What can you say about the Boss and Nebraska? Dark and desolate it leaves little room for hope…

“Brass Buttons” – Gram Parsons

Such a beautiful frickin’ tune from a soul that left us way to soon.

“Singer Not The Song” – Alex Chilton

B-side to “Jesus Christ” on this RSD release, it just smacks of sarcasm.

“No Cities To Love” – Sleater-Kinney

The only thing I bought yesterday that had nothing to do with RSD. It sounds a 1000 times better on vinyl.

“Funplex” – The B-52’s

Another fun and sarcastic bit from the band that always makes me smile.

“The Meaning Of Soul” – Oasis

I just had to slip this in for no other reason than I felt like it.

“Superstar” – Sonic Youth

You don’t realize just how creepy this Carpenters classic is until you hear the Sonic Youth version. Spine tingling!

“The Cabbage” – Teenage Fanclub

I so badly want this record on vinyl. One of my favourites!

“When My Baby’s Beside Me” – Kelly Willis

Say what you want, it’s a great song that holds its own even when it gets a little ‘countrified’.

“You and Your Sister” – Chris Bell

Because it is a great song that I just had to put in… no other reason.