Posted by: Alvin | November 24, 2008

Winter Music

So with winter just around the corner, if not already here, and with the holidays also fast approaching, i’ve decided to bring back something I did a few summers ago. I put together a set of songs I felt were very ‘summer’ and sent it to any friends that were interested as a way to stay in touch. Travelling as much as I do, and meeting such amazing people along the way, means that I don’t get to see the amazing people in my life as much as I would like. So this CD thing is a nice way to reach out and say hello.

Here’s the liner notes that’s going out with the 18 track mix. If anyone wants a copy, just email me your address: alvin [a t] raincitymedia [d o t] com.

Liner Notes after the jump…

Don’t Take Your Love Away – VAST – USA
This is the only VAST song I like. Take a listen to the rest of their stuff and you’ll see why. I agree, it’s a sad start to a CD but it sounds like winter would sound if it walked into a recording studio. Winter is also a difficult time for many. A lot of people find themselves away from home, or without someone special, or in need of a warm meal. Winter is the worst time to be lonely because there’s little to distract you from what you feel when you walk outside or gaze out a window.

Street Map – Athlete – ENGLAND
If the previous song got you down, well here you go. Athlete has a knack for writing whole songs without writing many lyrics. Almost all their songs repeat twice, sometimes three times. Fortunately, the band is so musically talented that it’s easy to forget that.

She Has No Time – Keane – ENGLAND
So at this point, most must think I’m someone who’s hopelessly depressed and hates Christmas or something…trust me, I’m ok. I imagine most of you will be ripping this CD to their iPod and listening to it walking somewhere. This is good walking music. You’ll look good walking to it, like you’re a character in a movie that’s entered a pivotal moment. Trust me.

Calendar Girl – Stars – TORONTO, ONTARIO
Hailing originally from Toronto, before heading to New York and then ending up in Montreal, Stars is a fantastic band. All of their songs are bittersweet tales of love, loving, and lovers. This song is here because, like others, it sounds to me like winter, and also because I had to work them in somehow.

The Midnight Choir – The Thrills – IRELAND
So there, something for you to dance to as you walk. From the latest Thrills album, ‘Teenager’, this is vintage Thrills, if not a little grown up. They got a lot of flack for sounding ‘too American.’ I guess that’s what happens when you keep using banjo in all your songs. Unfortunately, they got turfed from EMI, their label, after this album didn’t do as well as hoped in stores. Hopefully it won’t stop them.

Tender – Feeder – WALES
So by now you’ll see my bias towards UK music, it’s ok, I don’t care. Whatever is in the water over there, it’s working really well. From their second album since the suicide of drummer Jon Lee, ‘Tender’ is a perfect Feeder song and a great winter song. It sounds sad, but listen to the words and you’ll see I’m not a Christmas hater!

Left and Leaving – The Weakerthans – WINNIPEG, MANITOBA
Winnipeg is the world’s winter capital, and The Weakerthans know Winnipeg better than anyone. Because it’s so cold for so long, music is a natural go-to, and as a result there is an astonishing amount of amazing bands in the city. Many of them sing songs like The Weakerthans sing. Songs of longing for something bigger, songs about leaving, songs about being left behind. Think of this song as this CD’s ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’, just with more Winnipeg.

Love Me For Christmas – Dan Bryk – TORONTO/USA
Only two songs on this album are ‘Christmas Songs’ but this one (as opposed to the other) is hardly a carol. Bryk’s holiday CD ‘Christmas Record’ was released to critical acclaim and even got a four star review from pitchfork. Bryk will probably never break out as an artist, but his songs are thoughtful and real.

Get Home – Sarah Slean – TORONTO
Slean is actually from Pickering, but no one knows where that is. Like the Stars track, this song doesn’t really have a winter theme, except that – again – I think it sounds like winter. And also I have a crush on Sarah Slean, but that’s neither here nor there.

Waiting – City and Colour – TORONTO
Well, he’s not from Toronto either, it’s actually St. Catherines…but again, no one knows where that is. City and Colour is actually Dallas Green of Alexisonfire fame (see if you can guess how he came up with the name ‘City and Colour’). Now I know the lyrics “We’re all just waiting to die” doesn’t exactly ring positive, but it fits with the winter feel. Somewhere between January 2nd and whenever winter finally ends, it starts to drag on. The holidays are over and all the champagne and kissing is over. And we’re all just waiting for spring to arrive.

Vancouver – Andrew Norsworthy – USA
Vancouver isn’t very good at winter. It tries, it really does. There are bells and holly and tinsel up everywhere. But somehow it never looks the way it’s supposed to. About the closest we get is a clear, crisp winter day, but then people are out in polar fleece and khaki shorts instead of wool and boots and Vancouver gets it wrong all over again. It almost never snows, and when it does it’s as if winter reached us last. Going from east to west, it gives it’s worst to the Maritimes, always overdoing it, then sorts itself out for central Canada making Montreal, Ottawa, and even Toronto look and feel like winter should. It even has enough in the tank for the Prairies. But by the time winter gets to Vancouver it’s all tired and sick. It kinda wanders around and then pukes randomly on the sidewalks before it decides to just call it quits. Dirty, soupy snow sticks around for a day or so, everyone crashes their Volvo SUVs because they don’t know what’s going on as they head to Canadian Tire thinking of buying chains before they realize that’s a rather shortsighted idea and decide to get coffee instead and Starbucks then sells out of it’s eggnog lattes for another year. Sorry for those that aren’t from Canada, reading all of the above was kind of a waste of your time, but you allowed me to indulge myself, so thank you.

Walking Around Waiting Downtown – Reverie Sound Revue – CANADA
Hailing from all over Canada, but originating from Calgary, RSR is fronted by the gorgeous Lisa Lobsinger from Broken Social Scene. This song is here for two reasons. One, it sounds like a funky, techno Christmas carol. Two, it reminds me of walking around waiting downtown during the winter getting all my holiday stuff done.

String of Blinking Lights – Paper Moon – WINNIPEG, MANITOBA
If I had my way, every pop station in the world would be playing Paper Moon. I mean, they have everything going for them. Their songs are soulful, lead-singer Allison Shevernoha’s vocals are sexy, and the music is contagious. It’s like Ebola in a bikini. Think about that for a second. Moving on…Paper Moon is another great band from the music capital of Canada that talks about the city during the winter. People coming together, people leaving, and finding people to hold on to in the midst of all that cold.

Sunday Sun – The Cinematics – SCOTLAND

So with The Cinematics we round out the UK. I usually hate Sunday mornings. They are already stained with the dread of Monday morning. So I wake up already moody, and the whole day is a waste. The exception is during the winter holidays where I know Monday morning means nothing, and as a result Sundays are spent lining up for brunch outside Slickety Jim’s on Main waiting for their hot coffee as it rains (or if I’m lucky, snows just a little).

If There’s A Rocket Tie Me To It – Snow Patrol – N. IRELAND/SCOTLAND
More excellent walking music: smile to yourself as you walk into the tube/subway/metro/skytrain. Imagine that someone is thinking of you somewhere and that everyone on the car thinks you’re dead sexy. This must be why Snow Patrol is so often used in movies and TV, I think deep down everyone wishes music like this would play in the soundtrack for the movie Hollywood will eventually make of them, or just around them generally in real life…or maybe that’s just me.

Weighty Ghost – Wintersleep – HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
This song was added mostly because it’s an awesome song that I think more people need to hear, and also because of the band’s name, and finally because I felt that this part of the CD could benefit from something upbeat and ‘clappy’. That’s all.

The Turning – Oasis – ENGLAND
Pitchfork didn’t like the new Oasis album ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ but pitchfork never likes Oasis, so what else is new? They have some stupid idea that ‘What’s the Story’ was as good as this band ever got. Unfortunately, this is the prevailing North American attitude. Now, I won’t say that the albums after ‘What’s the Story’ were just as good, but they weren’t as bad as people made them out to be. This album, though, is finally one that I think is just as good. It’s a very different album though. Less of the neuvo-Beatles sound and more just the straight-up swagger-rock these boys are good for. Anyways, those of you in the USA and Canada should check it out and stop listening to pitchfork.

O Holy Night – The Tipitina’s Foundation – USA
The CD ends with the second of the two ‘holiday songs’. This one is an old classic performed by some of the most talented musicians in the world. The Tipitina’s Foundation works on a number of projects to continue the rich musical heritage of the city, especially after hurricane Katrina. Among the projects is one that works to give musical instruments to students in New Orleans’s schools. I’ll let the song speak for itself though.


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