Posts Tagged ‘Wide Mouth Mason’

Treasures Buried In The Earth

April 18, 2009

It’s another brilliant day here in Southern Ontario and I’ve decided to make a playlist in the great radition of muic lovers everywhere.  Of course this used to be a mixtape, then mix CD, but now it’s an iPod playlist.  Some criteria:

1) The list will be 17 songs long. This is because its April 17th as I’m writing the post, and I remember that most of my exam time mix CD’s were that long.

2) Only one song per band. With the sheer number of groups in my collection it’s only fair.

3) At least 50% Cancon because I’m a good citizen. Well I guess in this case it’ll be at least 53% because I’ll have to include 9 Candian songs out of 17.

4) Everything in my collection is eligible regardless of genre, time, nationality, or personal back story. 

Now the list:

Is this Love? – Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah

When I first heard this band I wasn’t sure what to think of them.  Their singing isn’t what would traditionally be considered high caliber. It’s a little different than most. Nevermind that though, the song is great.  It’s a perfect way to kick off a warm spring day.

Lovesong – The Cure

Many of my friends are into The Cure.  They are one of those bands that people just seem to instantly love when they hear them.  This song, as the title indicates, is a classic love song, though in a style not always associated with romantic overtones.  I am convinced that The Cure are a band that would fit seamlessly into today’s indie music scene if they were brand new.

I Must Belong Somewhere – Bright Eyes

I believe I mentioned this song in one of my snow shovelling conversations on the podcast.  It is equally suitable now.  The simplicity of the melody and message allow your mind to wrap around the intersting lyrics.  It feels like a song that’s lounging on the porch.

Throwing It All Away – Genesis

Speaking of songs that lounge about, this classic Genesis tune displays the conplexity of a dysfuntional relationship. As someone who’s been there this song is almost liberating.  The positive vibe of the music is contrasted by Phil’s obvious sadness.  He knows that this is it, but isn’t sure what to do.  The common arguments: Who will light the darkness? Who will hold your hand? Who will find you the answers when you don’t understand? But he brings it full circle with the classic: Late at night when you call my name the only sound you’ll hear, is the sound of your voice calling, calling after me.

Emily Carr – The Wheat Pool

The first Canadian band (remember I owe you at least 8 more) brings a beautiful tune.  It’s such an effortless song by a great emerging band.  It contains stories about life, regular old life.  Road tripping across the prairies demands this song. Watch out for their next album due out within the year I believe. 

Wondering Where The Lions Are – Bruce Cockburn

Want to take a stroll on a nice day?  This song should set your gait for you.  Bruce strikes me as the kind of person whose spent a lot of sunny days outside, soaking in the atmosphere.  Wondering Where The Lions Are is a Canadian classic.  I think the line some kinda ecstasy got a hold on me is a perfect fit for this list.

Up On Cripple CreekThe Band

I’m counting this as a Canadian track because of the Canadian content in the group.  The Band were leaders in popularizing very rootsy rock from the southern US.  This song, a bit of a tall tale about nearly perfect love, Up On Cripple Creek is ideal for working on your car, building a fence, or hosting a BBQ. It just makes everything seem a little more effortless.

Where There’s a Will There’s a Whale Bone – Islands

Yesterday I dragged out my hockey net and spent an hour taking shots.  As soon as this song came on my attempts became harder and more deliberate. If I was a professional baseball pitcher this would be my entrance music.  I don’t know why I failed to realize the potential of this song for motivation, but it’s now part of my pre-sports listening.  Hard to argue with a song that mentions whale bone repeatedly.

Lost! – Coldplay

Please note this is the alternative version and not the original album one.  This is another great motivating song.  The lyrics really tell the tale: Just because I’m losing doesn’t mean I’m lost.  It should probably be in a sports movie right at the point that the underdohas reached rock bottom and is working hard to get back up.  It’s a great metaphor for my basketball team (now 0-10) as we try to bounce back in the last third of the season.  Spring means rebirth, so does this song.

Middle of Nowhere – Hot Hot Heat

This B.C. based indie band has given the world a catchy song about taking off to nowhere.  To give you something to go on, when I go off, back to the middle of nowhere

Mother and Child Reunion – Paul Simon

Any hope of seeing an S & G song are dashed by this track.  I absolutely love the organ in this song.  Paul Simon has a way of creating a song that is so full and rich without overcomplicating it.  This song, with it’s kind of bizarre lyrics is just such a song.  I’m swaying back and forth at the thought of it.

Cause = Time – Broken Social Scene

Probably my favourite BSS song for it’s up tempo beat and cynical lyrics.  I think what makes the band so great is there willingness to just try new ideas and be a bit wild in their songwriting.  In the end though this song is just great for rolling down the street with the windows down.

Something On The Tragically Hip

With the NHL Playoffs on I might’ve picked a couple of other Hip tunes for this list, but this is the one I like most for the context.  It strikes a nice balance between a rocking beat and a laid back feeling.  Much like Up On Cripple Creek  this song is appropriate for a myriad of outdoor activities.

 I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty

Maybe my head is filled with a need to fight back, but I’m including another song with a strong message for the underdog. You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.

My Old Self – Wide Mouth Mason

Some songs are just so nostalgic you can’t ever escape them.  Pretty much anything from the first WMM album is that way for me.  It doesn’t hurt that this song puts me in the mood to be outisde, dancing around, or both.  I’m up in the kitchen singing, momma’s out in the backyard, daddy’s downstairs digging a grave.

 The Needle Has Landed – Neko Case

Perhaps this song would be better suited to an evening under the stars, but I like it in this list.  I think I could eat ice cream while listening to Neko Case and it’d feel like heaven.

In Perfect Time – Jill Barber

We come to a fitting end with a song about loss and life.   This Jill Barber song is my favourite of her work.  I would blame feeling down on the weather if I had no other reason to be. Thankfully that sentence does not apply to me today. I’m off to enjoy the sun.

A List For The Ages

March 19, 2009

Rolling stone gathers no moss, but leaves a trail of busted stuff.

Dave Matthews Band

Busted Stuff

There has been a little game floating around Facebook for awhile.  It is in the same style as those many email forwards that once clogged up inboxes.  Essentially, you are supposed to create a list of 15 albums that had a profound effect on your life. Rather than join in the perpetuation of tagging on the social networking site, I decided to fulfill the challenge here on my blog.  The original post gives some metaphysical mumbo-jumbo explanation for how an album can deeply affect a person, but I’ve decided to base my decision on three criteria:

1) I must have listened to the album more than 20 times.

2) I must enjoy virtually every track on the album.

3) The album must have some kind of story attached to it.

I actually found these criteria very restrictive, which is good, considering I own over 300 albums. Now to the list:

1. Simon & Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence – This album followed me abroad on a wild 12 day adventure from Paris to Rome.  Whenever I listen to it now I flashback to the many plane and bus rides, the horrible pink eye, and a quiet sunset in Sorrento.  I suppose I should also mention the many hours I spent wearing a hamburger box on my head. Sounds of Silencecaptures a band on the rise, just about to explode into the consciousness of an era. It is a musical masterpiece.

2. Coldplay – Parachutes – I came to be a Coldplay fan just a little bit later than most of my friends.  I really got into them about a year after Yellow flew up the charts.  I think i was too distracted by Radiohead to really appreciate this emerging group.  It makes the list because of the many cover versions of Don’t Panic that Dave and I shared while at St. Jerome’s.

3. Genesis – We Can’t Dance – For me, this is the quintessential nostalgia piece.  Growing up my family would spend many of our weekends driving around the countryside, enjoying the scenery and ultimately grabbing a hot dog at some out of the way stand.  The tape deck would usually feature this album or one from of my mom’s Rod Stewart collection.  This is the one I still listen to.

4. Radiohead – Ok Computer – I have to admit I first got hold of this album through less than legal means.  My friend Darryl copied it on to tape for me when it first came out (I think I owned 1 CD at the time).  I instantly fell in love with the group and spent the next 5 years buying every piece of recorded Radiohead material that I could.  I still have some ridiculous singles that feature bizarre remixes from this era.  While I haven’t been as crazy about collecting their music since about 2002, I still love Radiohead.

5. Peter Gabriel – Passion – This is a bit of a surprise entry. I have always enjoyed a number of Peter Gabriel songs, but it is this soundtrack album that moves me the most.  It was recorded for a movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, which I have never seen.  I used to listen to it while playing Age of Empires II and also while studying.  It was the soundtrack to significant parts of my first two years of university. The middle eastern flair, and desert feel make it a nice change from what usually fills the air around me.

6. Death Cab For Cutie – Plans – This album was given to me as a gift, in the hopes that I would embrace more indie music. It succeeded as I am now a full on convert.  I have a strong emotional connection to several of the songs, for reasons I’d rather not get into.  But I will say this, Plans is the only record that has ever made me cry.

7. The Who – Who’s Next – Another bit of nostalgia for me.  Like many people I know I had a huge classic rock phase in high school.  No band epitomized that period more than The Who.  Thanks to my mom’s already robust collection I was able to dive right into their music. Who’s Next contains most of my favourite Who songs, and doesn’t love the lovely cover art.

8. Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – Tails – I truly fell in love with Lisa Loeb upon hearing her beautiful voice.  Fortunately, I’m a little beyond teenage crushes now.  The music, however, stands the test of time.  I will admit to being disappointed when I read that, although she was starring in a show dedicated to finding a boyfriend, she only dated guys over the age of 30. My personal favourite on this album is Snow Day, not only because my name is in it, but because of the line it’s a bad day, but you’re my medicine

9. Counting Crows – Live Across a Wire – I had to think long and hard about which Counting Crows album to include. They are all amazing and meet the first two criteria. So the tie had to be broken by the story associated with them.  Live Across a Wire makes it for a couple of reasons. The first is a girl named Shanna, who I absolutely adored during my first year of university. Although I was far too awkward to do anything about my feelings, we did share a passion for music. She adored the version of Angel of the Silences found on the MTV Storytellers portion of this disc, and for some reason, I still remember that. I suppose the second reason I chose this album is that I have been to three Counting Crows concerts and I count each among the most memorable nights of my life, for various reasons. From a magical night under the stars with friends, to being stuck in downtown Kitchener at 2am, to flying down the QEW ready to burst in anguish, it’s been a wild ride.

10. Dave Matthews Band – Busted Stuff – Busted Stuff hit me at just the perfect time. The summer it came out I was working at a Seniors home doing a lot of outdoor maintenance.  My coworker and I alternated music choices from day to day. On her days we listened to Eminem and Our Lady Peace. On my days it was Counting Crows and Dave Matthews. This album became the soundtrack to that entire crazy summer. We worked for two men, Atilla from Hungary, and Tony from El Salvador.  Their seemingly endless feud and crazy stories made the absolutely dreadful work seem tolerable.

11. Wide Mouth Mason – Wide Mouth Mason – I have already written an entire entry on this album. I’ll direct you there for more information about it’s inclusion here.

12. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois – Sufjan Stevens  epic attempt to record albums about each state is impressive.  This particular effort blew me away the first time I heard it.  He has a way of creating a surreal landscape in his songs that feels very comfortable to be in. I particularly love the remix of Chicago on the version I bought, but for maximum creepiness check out John Wayne Gacy, Jr. 

13. u2 – War – Much like Dave, I would be remiss to leave U2 off of this list.  Although I was hard on their new album I still love the old stuff.  I find that War among all the others represents the pure unbridled passion of the band, and catches them right before they became the world’s biggest band with The Joshua Tree.  War particularly brings me back to my university days.  During Winter exams (April) the weather starts to turn.  The snow melts and the sun warms people and places alike. There is a special feeling in the air when that happens.  There is also the anticipation of the summertime and freedom from school work. I will always associate this album with those feelings.

14. David Gray – White Ladder – David Gray essentially changed my life at the beginning of second year.  Or perhaps I should say that my life changed and his music was there. I embarked on a bizarre and often painful 3 year journey at that point. It dominated the rest of my undergraduate career and helped make me the person I was, and some of what I am today.  In the space of two months I purchased all of his albums and essentially memorized every song in his catalogue. Now that is devotion. 

15. The Verve – Urban Hymns – Originally, I wasn’t going to include this album.  I had some other ideas of ones that fit better or had more ideal stories.  But I was drawn back by the story of a band who was robbed of royalties by an unscrupulous man, and the life of Richard Ashcroft who went from the highest of highs, to the humbling experience of being almost forgotten.  This album is itself a modern wonder.  I don’t think you’ll find another recording like it anywhere.  Although they are considered one hit wonders in North America, The Verve will always be stars in my heart.

This has been a lot of fun. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the albums above, or any that have really moved you.

Pardon My Eyes But I Can’t See

December 3, 2008

As we write this news item, Shaun Verreault of Wide Mouth Mason is on a train making its way throughout a number of US states to raise awareness and donations to local food banks in the area as part of the 2008 Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train!

Recent post on the official Wide Mouth Mason website.

Welcome to Part II of my review/running diary of Wide Mouth Mason by, appropriately, Wide Mouth Mason. Part I was yesterday’s entry. If you haven’t picked up this album in the last 11 years since it was released, get out there and buy it! I’m sure you can get it at The Beat Goes On, and I see it’s on iTunes. I added the link above because I think it’s a great cause. If you go to the site you can get more info and hopefully help out. (What? I have an agenda? Never!)

The next song on this musical journey is The Game. I love the fullness of the Wide Mouth Mason sound.  If you want to just rock to loud guitars this disc is for you. I see the face of a man in a jailyard looking at me as I drive by can’t escape me, I’m tied up just as tightly but I sing in my chains. This song has the best solo on the album. I love how they pan it back and forth from right to left, making full use of stereo!

All It Amounts To. If you’ll excuse the pun, all this album amounts to is a classic of Canadian rock. I think Wide Mouth Mason is often dismissed as a flash in the pan from the late 90’s, but I think their musical accomlishments (even just on this one album) are bigger than that. I want to be, yea, and I want to see, yea yea.

I should point out that I have not heard the band’s fifth album. I drifted away from them after Rained Out Parade (I think I’ve only listened to it twice).  Apparently Shaun Verrault and Earl Pereira have both done other projects, and the band is currently working on new material. After relistening to this album I’d like to check out their 2005 output.

I’ve reached a song with a very prairie title, Corn Rows, which has a little more mellow feel, but is still filled with nice riffs and more falsetto singing.  It’s a good sign that there are just three tracks left and I’m still swaying along. But you sleep at nighttime and I can’t understand how you ever did. I also remember every word to every song after probably 5 years. That’s one mark of a great album.

Two things I just found out that I didn’t know: 1) the dobro we heard on The Preacherman’s Song was Colin James (of Corner Gas fame, just kidding, though he was on an episode as himself) 2) there is a woman credited with back up vocals, but I can’t tell when it’s her and when it’s Shaun.

Sister Sally takes the train down the east side. This song is a real blues tune, with heavy chords, little riffs, and a soulful melody.  These guys could’ve made a living as a blues trio in another life.

Listening to the album you must ask yourself, with the various guitar layers on the record how could they possibly recreate this album on stage? Well they can’t exactly, but they certainly can make you forget all about the album.  Not that they were perfect. In fact I went to one gig where Shaun was using a sampler to play a song, I can’t recall which (maybe Why off of Stew) but his sampler didn’t have the right rhythm and the song sounded horrid. But one mistake is hardly a terrible thing, this is coming from someone who always forgets the lyrics to Beatles songs on stage. Beatles songs! Baby Baby what have you done? That’s part of the chorus to Tell Me. I got a little too into that rant and now the song is basically over.

I have reached the final song, Mary Mary. I used to like a girl named Mary many years ago, and this song always made me think of her. That and Radiohead’s Lucky because that song was playing one night when she turned me down. No worries though because Wide Mouth Mason has never turned me down.

Well it’s been a lot of fun for me listening to this album again and writing down my thoughts, stream of consciousness style. I hope it’s been great for you!

Oh My Lord Lord Lord

December 2, 2008

Dum dum dum, dum dum dum, dum dum dum, dum dum dum…

Wide Mouth Mason

Bass track to My Old Self

As promised (because I like to keep my promises) I am going to do a review/running diary of one of my all-time favourite albums, the self-titled debut disc by Wide Mouth Mason.  This album was released in 1997 when I was still in high school, and absolutely blew me away.  For those who are unfamiliar with Wide Mouth Mason they are a trio from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who have found moderate success in Canada. Their first two albums were by far the best, with their debut simply rocking from track 1 – 12.  I have seen them live 3 times over the years. The first time was behind Theatre Aquarius in downtown Hamilton, on a bill that included Finger Eleven in one of their first gigs after the name change.

This album kicks off with My Old Self a song Urban Moon covered regularly. Immediately, it’s clear that this album should be cranked to ten. Shaun Verrault was widely heralded as the greatest Canadian guitarist of his era, and virtually every second of the disc is filled with proof. Am I gushing? You bet I am, I love this band.

Track 2, Midnight Rain is one of my favourites. The chorus of Everything is turning round, turning round, and everything is going down, going down, the sun will shince on solid ground, tomorrow when it comes out, is top notch.

For some reason the band fell in love with To Kill A Mockingbird, because the third track Tom Robinson is about that characters sexual activity, and subsequent legal problems.  Whereas the movie creates a serious dramatic tone, this song makes me want to dance.  I find it interesting that the song actually slows down in the chorus as Shaun sings run run Tom Robinson.

As I said this was a trio, and each band member’s ancestors came from a different part of the world. This was often cited in articles about the group (I read very many) as a reason for their unique sound.  One of my friends was hit on by the bass player at a gig, and if you watch him on stage he looks like he’s trying to pick up the whole audience during a set.

For River Song, Shaun breaks out the acoustic guitar, and gets very sorrowful.  Wide Mouth Mason does have some similarity to other late 90’s Canadian bands, like The Watchmen for example. Rest assured I liked them too.  All my life I’ve tried to be good, or at least to myself, you did what you thought you shoud, but it hurt me like hell.

I met the band at the Burlington Sound of Music Festival years ago. They were quite nice, and despite some serious technical issues put on another great show.  I can’t honestly think of anyone I know who heard this band and didn’t like them.  At least not until their third and fourth albums, which sort of turned me against the band a little.

After River Song we have another one of the singles This Mourning, a clever pun that harkens back to my own The Sunrises.  This is a flat out bluesy song with a generous helping of riffs.  I feel like this post has turned me into that guy who sits in his basement with a beer and cranks Lynyrd Skynyrd all night. Maybe I am that guy, except I don’t drink beer. Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah I’ll sing ’til the rain is gone, yes I will, yes I will yea yea. At the end of the song, before a great solo, Shaun breaks out his, is it a man or is it a woman?!? voice. Love it.

The thing that’s great about this album is that it never misses! Not even once.

The Preacherman’s Song. Growing up on the prairies I’m sure the band was confronted with religion all the time.  Canada still has a lot of very religious people in it, despite our image as a fairly secular place.  This song shows a little bit of that soul with some dobro thrown in for good measure. If I’m right or I’m wrong I guess only God knows…even fools can be right now and then…you can the biggest army surrender for something as small as a kiss. This song is rich in imagery, particularly of the kind that I am familiar with as a religion scholar (in a former life).

Alright so I’ve reached the midpoint of the album and am way past my usual word limit for the blog. Come back tomorrow for part two of this wonderful journey down memory lane!