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Various Artists – Bills & Aches & Blues (4AD)
Ratboys – Happy Birthday, Ratboy (Topshelf)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor makes music for contemplation—for time slowed down, for places standing still, for futures on hold. Listening to a Godspeed You! album is like reading a Cormack McCarthy novel, churning through deliciously austere layers to find the soul within. There are villains, there are struggles, there is loss.
Written while on their final tour pre-COVID and recorded during the second wave of the pandemic, G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END explores what hope looks like in end times for the Montreal collective. That’s not to say G_d’s Pee is off brand for Godspeed You!, or even that it forces new perspective. It simply continues to roll the stone up the hill with enough grace to wipe the sweat from its brow.
by Eddie Sayago
There is a chance that you have come across a song (or two, or so many more) that you enjoy and did not realize that it's either been covered by someone else or is a cover itself. We hope that this series allows you to appreciate both the original and the covers they have inspired, and to seek out and enjoy new music in the process.
For this entry, we take a look at “Back On The Chain Gang”, a song about loss originally written and recorded by one-half of the original Pretenders, and a slightly sunnier Spanish-language cover performed by Selena over a decade later.
It was a tough time for the Pretenders when they stepped into the studio to record “Back On The Chain Gang” in July 1982. Only half the band was around; singer/songwriter Chrissie Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers. The previous month, they kicked out bassist Pete Farndon due to his drug issues and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott died of a drug overdose only a few days later. (Farndon would die of a heroin overdose the following year.)
Hynde was feeling the pressure from the music industry as her profile rose higher. “I found a picture of you, o-o-oh, o-o-oh/Well it hijacked my world at night” references her estranged partner, The Kinks’ Ray Davies, as she was pregnant with their daughter at the time of recording. Hynde would dedicate “Back On The Chain Gang” to Honeyman-Scott and would become one of their signature songs, never losing its emotional punch.
by Claence Ewing
With over 100 years of recorded music available to our ears, sometimes it can be tough to know where to begin exploring the art form’s many genres and styles. This series provides ideas for those interested in exploring unfamiliar genres and styles of music.
What Is It: Take a four-on-the-floor beat (or something awfully close to it), and sweeping guitars, strings, and horns as needed, keep it playing all night to sing songs about love (both physical and spiritual), happiness, and ecstacy (the mental state and/or the drug).
America has always had a fraught relationship with dance music. This was especially true with Disco, a dance craze that emerged from underground New York clubs and took over a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate USA looking for a little escapism during the mid to late 1970s. For a brief time, Everyone from the ultra-glamorous patrons of Studio 54 to grandparents in retirement homes were learning new steps and having a party that didn’t involve staring at screens all night.