Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

Back by Popular Demand: Timmy T’s Top Ten of Twenty Fourteen

22 Jan
Music super fan Timmy T is back again with his take on the year that was. Without further adieu, and presented without comment by Unsung  (ok, 2 comments:  Where is Hozier??? How about Sturgill?? 🙂  here’s your chance to catch up on all the great music you may have missed!
1.)  alt-J  –  This Is All Yours
Best Song:  “Every Other Freckle”
Why It’s On The List: Very different yet easy listening stuff; kind of like if someone took the Drive soundtrack and put it in a blender with some heavy riffs and lyrics for extra flavour.

2.)  Bruce Springsteen  –  High Hopes  &  American Beauty (EP)

Best Songs:  “American Skin (41 Shots)” from High Hopes  &  “Mary Mary” from American Beauty (EP)

Why They’re On The List: Look, he’s called the Boss for a reason; it’s not like the name was awarded for half-assed music. This time out, he’s done another collection of cover songs, outtakes and re-imagined tracks. It’s done with contributions from both the E Street Band and Tom Morello and nearly every song sounds amazing! If you like Bruuuuuuuccceee, do yourself a favour and give both of these a listen.

3.)  Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love

Best Song:  “Scream (Funk My Life Up)”
Why It’s On The List: Just a great contemporary take on soul and R&B and a tiny little bit of funky funk. The first track is really a great leading track (for almost any playlist) and everything that follows is mellow and soothing while thought-provoking. A great album for a quiet night in, along with some great drinks.

4.)  Sam Roberts Band  –  Lo-Fantasy

Best Song:  “We’re All In This Together”
Why It’s On The List: I was a little worried he might never have another great album, that he “might never be the same again”. Well, I was wrong on both counts. Not only is this album fantastic, it’s also a re-invention of Sam Roberts. Take what you think you know about him and his band, stomp on it with your foot, and kick it across the room. Then pull it apart and crumple it back together. Then paint it with a combination of groovy colours. That’s what this album is!

5.)  Ryan Adams  –  Ryan Adams

Best Song:  “I Just Might”
Why It’s On The List: Personally, I think if you have to ask, then you haven’t obviously ever been listening to any of his work to begin with. And shame on you then. Setting aside a dismal concert performance in E-dot (in my humble opinion), this album is quite possibly his best work yet, and that’s saying something. The guy has already done a ton of amazing work. If you have listened to him, then you know what I’m talking about. And, you’ll agree with me if you know what’s good for you.

6.)  SomeKindaWonderful  –  SomeKindaWonderful

Best Song:  “Devilish Man”
Why It’s On The List: A combination of nearly all genres, somehow it works. Initially, I didn’t think it did. But, on the second listen, there’s quite a bit of complexity to this album. One of the main cases in point is “Devilish Man”; it’s got a catchy but also throwback attitude. The whole thing is quite enjoyable.

7.)  Spoon  –  They Want My Soul

Best Song:  “Inside Out”
Why It’s On The List: Just when you think this album might be trying to be Brit-pop, it veers off into some pretty interesting melodic territory. If you’re familiar with Spoon already, this is their best work so far, in my opinion. And, I think the future is even more promising for this band than ever before, based on this album.

8.)  John Hiatt  –  Terms of My Surrender

Best Song:  “Nobody Knew His Name”
Why It’s On The List: If you like slow Blues, without it sauntering up to you and being all up in your face, then this is a great album for you. It’s not fancy, but that’s a good thing. This is the kind of album I see myself listening to by the fire pit with a beer, and howling at the moon in angelic harmony with the album. I have an angelic voice, you know.

9.)  Vance Joy  –  Dream Your Life Away

Best Song:  “Mess Is Mine”
Why It’s On The List: I like fast-paced Folk riffs. So does everyone else apparently! This album is kind of like if only one guy from Mumford & Sons decided to go solo.

10.)  Royal Blood  –  Royal Blood

Best Song:  “Figure It Out”
Why It’s On The List: Well, NME‘s readers voted it number ‘1’, and that’s worth something, right Unsung? 😉 It’s also a total rebel assault on rock n’ roll itself. Don’t listen to this if you don’t like meat & potatoes rock n’ roll. By the way, based on this, the genre (i.e. ‘rock n’ roll’) is alive and well.

Honourable Mentions

  • U2’s Songs of Innocence had its detractors for obvious reasons, but all in all, it’s a pretty good U2 album. Just not good enough for the main list. Sorry, Bono. But, also congrats for being on my Honourable Mentions list.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack has awesome songs from the seventies. A great playlist unto its own and just awesome homage. FYI reminder, not to be a downer, but “Spirit in the Sky” gets played at my funeral and/or at O’Byrne’s for my wake.
  • Walking Dead soundtrack EP has some phenomenal tracks I’ve never heard of before, especially Sharon Van Etten’s “Serpents (Basement)”; if you like music, you should listen to that track. The track is not from 2014, but the soundtrack is. So, that’s why it’s in Honourable Mentions.
  • Death from Above 1979’s “Trainwreck 1979” is a rip-roaring track!
  • Robert Plant’s lullaby and . . . The Ceaseless Roar has some great tunes on it, if you’ve enjoyed his latter year mellowing melancholy tunes. A little Celtic flavour underlying this one too, which is an interesting juxtaposition to what is an otherwise ordinarily rock-blues-country vocal.
  • Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ Hypnotic Eye; after years of not being on charts, that this one made it, and is worth the nod, is worth the nod. Honourable Mention, but not a top 10. Good going, Tom. Maybe a TT Top 10 is in your sights yet. 😉 Keep at it. You’ll make it someday.
  • I only happened to discover The Killers’ “Shot At the Night” during 2014. Yes, it’s a 2013 track from a Greatest Hits compilation. But holy cow! Magnificent track!! I remember being absolutely paralyzed when I first heard it (and that was a good reaction; it’s the reaction to have to music – when it’s soooo good, you can’t move; literally). I have to mention it because I don’t have an Unsung website so, this is my only opportunity for this plug. Yes, I’m a year late. But, if you have only one song you can download this month, this is my absolute 100% foolproof recommendation.
    • Your life will thank you.

Coffee Cup Reading: The Greatest Lyrics of All Time

15 May

What is it about a song that gets to you? Most often its the groove or the mood, the pace and the pitch. But songs also have a way of speaking to you in words, consoling and cajoling, speaking universal truths, or simply adding context and imagery to the rhythm. The below is a humble collection of favorites  – can you spot the song and has it spoken to you before?   (Prophets and preachers are abbreviated to last names. Who says poetry is dead?)

 “The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves. As a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays” – Springsteen

“God is a concept, by which we measure our pain” – Lennon

“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood” – Eric Burdon, The Animals

“Have you come here for forgiveness, have you come to raise the dead, have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?” – Bono

“Well those drifters days are past me now, I’ve got so much more to think about. Deadlines and commitments, what to leave in, what to leave out” -Seger

“She was physically forgotten and then she slipped into my pocket with my car keys. She said, “you’ve taken me for granted because I please you, wearing these diamonds” – Simon

“All your dreams are made, when you’re chained to the mirror and the razor blade”
– N. Gallagher

“Sometimes I don’t know where this dirty road is taking me, sometimes I can’t even see the reason why. I guess I’ll keep a-gamblin’, lots of booze and lots of ramblin’, it’s easier than just waitin’ around to die” – Van Zandt

“Freedom has a scent, like the top of a newborn baby’s head” – Bono

“The world is in your hands, or its at your throat” – Julian Casablancas, The Strokes

“So I’ll start a revolution from my bed, cuz you said the brains I had, went to my head”
– N. Gallagher

“The morning sun, when its in your face, really shows your age. But that don’t bother me none, in my eyes you’re everything.” – Stewart

“Some days are sulky, some days have a grin, some days have bouncers that won’t let you in” – Bono

“Straight outta Compton is a brotha that’ll smotha yo’ motha….and make ya sister think I love her” – Easy E

“She moved so easily all I could think of was sunlight…..She asked ‘Don’t I know you from the cinematographer’s party?’ I said ‘Who am I to blow against the wind?’ – Simon

In a world of steel-eyed death, and men who are fighting to be warm,
“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm.” – Dylan

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” – McCartney

“Now I work down at the carwash, where all it ever does is rain. Don’t you feel like you’re a rider on a downbound train?” – Springsteen

“There’s beauty in the silver singing river, there’s beauty in the sunrise in the sky – but none of these and nothing else can match the beauty, that I remember in my true love’s eyes” – Dylan

“There ain’t nothing like regret, to know that you’re alive” – Sheryl Crow

“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend. But I always thought that I’d see you again” – James Taylor

“Oh the snow fell without a break. Buffalo died in the frozen fields you know. Through the coldest winter, in almost fourteen years, I couldn’t believe you kept a smile” – Stewart

“You know I didn’t mean, what I just said, but my God woke up on the wrong side of his bed” – N.Gallagher

“I’ve looked at love from both sides now, from give and take, and still somehow,
it’s life’s illusions I recall, I really don’t know love at all.” – Joni Mitchell

“I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me” – Lennon

And if a ten-tonne truck kills the both of us, to die by your side, well, the pleasure, the privilege is mine.” – Morrissey

“Sometimes, when I look deep in your eyes, I swear I can see your soul” – James

“You try and find a love that will see you through your darkest days… and her soft brown hair is as long as a Canadian highway…and there’s no road that ain’t a hard road to travel on” – Sam Roberts

“See I’m stuck in a city, but I belong in a field…oh the heart beats in its cage” – J. Casablancas, the Strokes

“I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’,
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’,
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin” – Dylan

“So don’t change the dizzle, turn it up a little, I got a living room full of fine dime brizzles
waiting on the Pizzle, the Dizzle and the Shizzle, G’s to the bizzack, now ladies here we gizzo.” – Snoop Dogg.

“I drink concentrated OJ. I think consolidated is ok. Its not the band i hate, its their fans….three cans of water perverts me” C. Murphy, Sloan

“If you’re having girl problems i feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” – Jay-Z

“Someone told me there’s a girl out there, with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair” – R. Plant, Led Zeppelin

“I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch. He said to me, “Don’t ask for too much.”  And a young woman leaning in her darkened door. She cried out to me, “Why not ask for more?” – Cohen

“Our fiction feels real. Yours is a heart I could steal” – Samantha Savage Smith

“Maybe I will never be, all the things that I’d like to be. Now is not the time to cry, now’s the time to find out why – I think you’re the same as me, we see things they’ll never see. You and I are gonna live forever” – N. Gallagher

“She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the fifteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue”


“She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge
She studied sculpture at Saint Martin’s College,
that’s where I / caught her eye.
She told me that her Dad was loaded
I said in that case I’ll have a rum and coke-cola.

She said fine / and in thirty seconds time /she said, I want to live like common people
I want to do whatever common people do, I want to sleep with common people
I want to sleep with common people / like you. 
Well what else could I do ? I said I’ll see what I can do. 
I took her to a supermarket
I don’t know why but I had to start it somewhere, so it started there. 
I said pretend you’ve got no money, she just laughed and said oh you’re so funny. 
I said yeah? Well I can’t see anyone else smiling in here. 
Are you sure you want to live like common people
You want to see whatever common people see
You want to sleep with common people, 
you want to sleep with common people like me. 
But she didn’t understand, she just smiled and held my hand. 
Rent a flat above a shop, cut your hair and get a job. 
Smoke some fags and play some pool, pretend you never went to school. 
But still you’ll never get it right 
‘cos when you’re laid in bed at night watching roaches climb the wall 
If you call your Dad he could stop it all. 
You’ll never live like common people
You’ll never do what common people do
You’ll never fail like common people
You’ll never watch your life slide out of view, and dance and drink and screw 
Because there’s nothing else to do.” 

J. Cocker, Pulp



Coffee Cup Reading: Old Tymey Vests

27 Apr


[band picture or turn of the century labourers? You decide.]

“I think people think it’s cool to pretend you live in a 1920’s work camp and eat beans from a tin that you cook over a bonfire (in your Brooklyn apartment). I want to know what ole tymey store all these bands are buying their dressup outfits from. There has to be some sort of Gap for the throngs of idiots who want to pretend they make their own clothes. Somehow wearing one of these outfits makes listening to your really bad music acceptable for people.” – Zak Pashak, founder of Sled Island,  CEO of Detroit Bikes

I’ve been thinking a lot about hipsters lately. Probably more than I should be thinking about them. And not your card carrying, green pant wearing, gypsy jewelry toting, Coachella ambling, hipster. But that unique strain of hipster my friend Zak describes so well, which seems to thrive in the music halls and mp3 downloads of our time. And on the streets too – a form of fashion favoured by certain bands and people – you’ve seen them, you’ve known them, maybe you are them. Whole mediums glorify and lampoon the modern day hipster; Vancouver and Portland are virtual champions of a sadistic visual sport home-brewed in their cities.

And Mumford and Sons are certainly the patron saints, or at very least, the soundtrack to this scene. I remember the first time I heard and saw them….a carefully constructed live performance in a rustic library:

And just look at this video – why the fuck are they in a field with an accordion playing?

But five years ago, the look, the sound, the soul, was a revelation. A startling back to the future lightning bolt of promise – 4 pioneers of music sent to save us from our indulgent selves, tilling our plastic pop wasteland with the harvest of hearty grains and wholesome music, just like our pappies listened to. How could a voice as gravelly as lead singer Marcus Mumford’s transcend? Why did they have so much god-damned gusto? When was the last time we had heard a banjo in a pop song? And where did they get those great haircuts and shirts?

Then came the inevitable growing groundswell of support, first in the alternative corners, and eventually, into the mainstream with Grammy fame and success. A second album followed that traded on the quiet and loud aesthetic of the first, with no new ideas; the clear harbinger of a band drowning in its self-created surf. Even their greatest moment was a subdued cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer’; the ideal muse for Marcus’ voice, majestically accompanied by the sublime slide guitar of guest Jerry Douglas:

But now, just like with everything that the mainstream devours, what little original novelty that may have existed with the Mumfords and their hipster movement has been exposed, their secret sauce reverse engineered. Maybe it’s only a matter of time until the Dr.Mindbenders at the giant record labels learn how to commoditize and mass produce their sound and image to create the most feared and reviled Frankensteins of our age: the Boy Band. I can see the lineup now: the pretty folk boy hipster who dresses like a depression-era factory worker, though somehow is still impeccably clean shaven; the bad boy rummy with a stogie in his mouth and a heart of gold behind the coal stained hands, and the angel voiced lead singer sporting a comically thick beard that nests 2 robins (they help with harmonies). And we shall call them: “The New Deal”.

And now, five years on, I view it all with a fascinated curiosity. Amazed at how the masses can be swept up by a heady Prohibition-era cocktail of good looks, hooks, and feigned earnestness that only a banjo and hand stitched northwestern lumber mill shirt can provide. The Calgary Mumford show sold out in less than 5 minutes (true, many of those tickets were ‘purchased’ and immediately available for resale via Ticketmaster’s minion Stubhub – if that isn’t the evil conspiracy of our time, I don’t know what is.) But it’s happened before and it will happen again. The music machine keeps on churning, just like fashion keeps coming up with new designs that upholster a not so distant age. And sometimes the two collide in a wonderful meteor storm that is Mumford. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them; they play their own instruments and write their own songs; they seem to feel the heartache they feel. And maybe they will get over their difficult second album, have a difficult look in the mirror like the Boss once did, and settle into a comfortable rut in the road firmly fixed between the real and the oversold.

Mumford ain’t the first, and they ain’t the last – see: Peter Paul and Mary all the way down to Avett Brothers. Perhaps it’s like the immortal lines sung by Chris Murphy of Sloan: “It’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans.” And if that’s true, maybe we hate a little of ourselves for being so fickle – falling hard for bands that we won’t care about as much as soon as the next one comes along, just like a forgotten dress in a deep closet that just doesn’t seem to capture the color of today.

We shouldn’t be surprised by all this. It permeates our society: the yearning for authenticity, for quality, for something real that you can rely on. That’s why retro will always be fashionable; our memories of olden times, recalled by way of the well-travelled road and well-worn sweater, is comfortable nostalgia. We chide the old timers in our families for speaking wistfully of simpler times, but us children of the 80s and 90s repeat the pattern (Nintendo is still more family fun than xbox). We trade and recycle decades and glorify the best tokens of those times. A fundamental guiding light of UnSung is to champion new bands that capture the classic sound of old without a sense of exploitation or veneer. Admittedly that is a pretty subjective line, and one that Mumford has hopscotched over. But there are some great bands out there who seem to fall on the right side of that line, even if they appear to fit the label:

The Tumbleweeds:

Shakey Graves:

Will they make it, find a larger audience, become mini-Mumfords, and then face a backlash when they are too popular to be cool? Only time will tell. I may have offended some hipsters or Mumford concert goers,  but hopefully I’ve just given them pause for thought. This isn’t a condemnation, but a comment, and I’m not holier than thou; I own maple brown glasses from Warby Parker, I often sport a ramshackle beard better appreciated in the backwoods of Montana, and one of my favorite possessions is a canvas jacket that looks like it’s from 1962. We’re all wanting to be hip so we’re not square. And isn’t everyone just trying to be Bob Dylan trying to be Woody Guthrie anyways?

We might as well sit back and enjoy the ride; those that strive for authenticity, those caught in the grip of fickle popularity, those just wanting to find a nice weathered shirt to go with their navy jeans and beat up loafers.

So like that old tymey vest, the penultimate ‘fashion before function’ assemblage, wear your allegiances with caution, for all can see them. And seek the pure of heart and sound; you may be led astray, but chances are, someone else has been there before you.

UPDATE MAY 21/13 – So I saw Mumford in concert last night. My verdict: The earnest head banging in the middle of banjo solos may have seemed a little over the top, but they seemed to have captured something that so many people adore – there were girls crying and drunk boys singing. Lovely patio lights that shone across the main floor. Everyone became electrified during Lion Man and I Will Wait, but there are still too many slow songs that killed any momentum – Mumford still needs to learn the lesson of U2 and Coldplay before them about the importance of a set list: take your audience on emotional ride for 2hrs, and they won’t forget it. Ironically enough, the best moment was their cover (another cover!) of I’m On Fire by Bruce Springsteen. And Marcus’ vest, it was lovely.

UPDATE AUGUST 5/13 – Take back everything I ever said about Mumford. Check out their new video taking the piss out of themselves (or at least granting comedians the right to take the piss out of themselves.) Well done, Mumford, well done.