The rain and the sea and the hours.

April 26, 2017

Bernard Sumner stumbled into singing when his best friend killed himself. Its something he wasn’t ever particularly good at, despite becoming the iconic voice of New Order.

While he does a pretty good job on this one, its not his voice actually sounding more songlike for once that I appreciate most in this song.

What gets me is this beautiful sentiment out of Sumner that you’d never, ever get from Ian Curtis.

Could anyone see Joy Division doing a song like this? Not a chance. Yet, of course, it is kissed with that haunting legacy of Curtis hiding out underneath it all. There’s a great juxtaposition between those two things, here. The contrast of Sumner’s emotion against the minimalist backdrop the band provides, still true to their DNA as the band that was that other, less happier band, once upon a time.

The Village is a wonderful surprise and I think this is the song that Sumner probably actually sang best. At the onset, it’s a surprisingly optimistic, organic, and warm song for a group that really was at the forefront of minimalist electronic music and pioneering those kinds of cold, tin-like, sounds.

With The Village you’ve got the natural world overlapping with all kinds of sentiment about love and emotion. If you’re a transcendentalist or romanticist you’d know that these things are, of course, forever entwined. It’s a good ride, with a twist. The punch in this song is that all that bright and romantic set up is only there to be stripped away by the last two stanzas. The ghost of Ian Curtis, I assume, skulking in, black and nihilist and poo-pooing on all that warm fuzzy stuff.

When a new life turns towards you
And the night becomes a day
We shall remain forever
Everyone who meets his way
Oh, our love is like the flowers
The rain and the sea and the hours
Oh, our love is like the flowers
The rain and the sea and the hours 

When the rain falls to the sea
They’ll be waiting for you and for me
And the sky reflects our image
Trying to sleep right through our lives

Oh, our love is like the earth
The sun and the trees and the birth
Oh, our love is like the earth
The sun and the trees and the birth

I am still here two days later
Same place, same time
And I’m stuck here two years too long
Same place, the wrong time

Oh, our love is like the flowers
The rain and the sea and the hours
Oh, our love is like the flowers
The sun and the sea and the hours

Their love died three years ago
Spoken words I cannot show

The National and our Rosie Minded Fuzz.

November 26, 2016

This is a great song by a great band. Matt Beringer’s velvety smooth vocals are like drinking a pint of Guinness with your ears. It’s got a perfect cadence for running but it’s also really nice to just listen to. The crooning smoothness lulls you into thinking it’s a super chill, lie on the couch track, but the tempo makes you do this aural double take, where you’re like, “hey wait a second…”

This video is great. I love the classy and unpretentious aesthetic; these are the people you’d want to be friends with. It’s music with storytelling. The filtered sound when the band first comes on over the din of conversation, people taking notice, getting up and participating, and the wonderful bit at 2:30 with the red shoes (and calves!) that are the catalyst that instigate the life, vitality, and what becomes the overall message of the piece.

To me the video, and song, speaks to what 30-something (or 40-something) is. People chatting. There’s kids. It’s nice. But its just nice. It’s a little passive. The lyrics are about hiding out, cocooning, slowing down. “Tired and wired, we ruin too easy.” But Red Shoes changes it. Red Shoes rolls out, shakes it, and reminds us all that life is to be actively experienced. The dude at 2:38 is thinking, “Yeah. Dancing. I used to do that. Man. That was good. That felt right. Wait a sec…I can still do that. I’m so doing that.” And he does. They all do.

I love that the couple grabs hands just as the lyric says, “so worry not, all things are well, we’ll be alright” and the guy lifting the baby just after pushes it home, conveying just how alright it is. This shows us there’s room for all things. That the new life is not necessarily the death of the old one. Go ahead, cocoon, nest, stay inside that ‘rosie minded fuzz’, but don’t forget to step out and dance every now and then ’cause that’s super important too. It makes me think of the couples I know that have kids and then, a week later, are back out at bike races and 10-k fun runs with this little human in tow, a little human that’s going to grow up into an interesting and engaging world. I can’t speak of these things first hand but I know that’s what I’d shoot for if that happens. A kid reared not just by parents but by the experiences of life itself. The world, curated by a guide, is a capable and wise teacher.

Maybe that’s a lot to pull out of a four minute song, but that’s art, people. That’s supposed to happen.

Joy Division to New Order through Ceremony

February 7, 2016

Everyone’s favorite spastic dancer loses control

I was talking about this with my pal Trent, a week or so ago, and saying how I wanted to write a blog post about the evolution of Joy Division into New Order following the suicide of Ian Curtis.


Both bands are great for their own reasons, but what’s really interesting, to me at least, is to look at the transition from JD to NO, from Curtis to Sumner, and how the mood and tone of the band changed, and also how the mood and tone of the band stayed the same.

The best song to look at to see this evolution, I think, is Ceremony.

It was one of the last Joy Division songs and one of the first New Order songs. Curtis wrote the lyrics and first recorded it and it was the first song that the reincarnated New Order did immediately after his death. Guitarist Bernard Sumner stepped up to sing and, purportedly, had to transcribe the lyrics from the audio of Curtis as they weren’t actually written down anywhere. I’m not sure if that’s true, but if it is, and if you stop to think about it, there’s something incredibly, hauntingly, horrifyingly beautiful about that. The first sounds moving forward for this collection of friends are initiated by the ghost of the recently departed Curtis. How his voice must’ve just hung in the air of that room.

Now if you’re not really a Joy Division fan, or not into this music, the best version for you to listen to is likely the New Order version from the 1987 album Substance. I’m not saying that this is the best version, its just the most sort of accessible one – although the 7″ version is a bit more punk and raw and that’s good too. The original Joy Division recording is very muffled and Curtis’ distinct and robotic drone can be a bit alienating if you haven’t warmed up to it.

Give these a listen back-to-back. The vocals are really bad in the first two but these are the only recordings of this song, so that’s all there’s ever going to be.

The second one here has some rather Transylvanian sounding spookiness.

The third is the first version after Curtis, with Sumner singing. But it’s still very much an emulation of a Joy Division song, one performed by the guys in the sound they’d always had.

The fourth one, from the 7″, is the version that you could suggest is the first, legit, New Order version. The tempo is faster, getting further away from that reverby punkish sound and into something more polished and studio-esque. There’s only a matter of months between these but the direction is there. This is also, I feel, where Sumner is singing more as himself and less as an Ian Curtis impersonator, although that it definitely still there, too. You hear a bit of both, which is why that version is the absolute coolest. It maintains the rawness and DIY feel of Joy Division, yet you start to get a little bit more melody and the more outgoing, vibrant, and more optimistic passion of Sumner and New Order. It’s my fave.

The final version, which was put on the 1987 album Substance, is where the transition is complete. Its important to note that while that last one appeared on an album six years later it was actually recorded in the same year as the 7″ – in 1981. In fact, all five of these were done within just over a year. And by a group of people in their early 20’s who had just lost their friend and leader.

Joy Division, 1980, from Heart and Soul

Joy Division, 1980, live, two weeks before Curtis’ death

New Order, March 1981

New Order, 1981, single 7″

New Order, 1987, Substance

This is why events unnerve me,
They find it all, a different story,
Notice whom for wheels are turning,
Turn again and turn towards this time,
All she ask’s the strength to hold me,
Then again the same old story,
World will travel, oh so quickly,
Travel first and lean towards this time.

Oh, I’ll break them down, no mercy shown,
Heaven knows, it’s got to be this time,
Watching her, these things she said,
The times she cried,
Too frail to wake this time.

Oh I’ll break them down, no mercy shown
Heaven knows, it’s got to be this time,
Avenues all lined with trees,
Picture me and then you start watching,
Watching forever, forever,
Watching love grow, forever,
Letting me know, forever.

Hell yeah to that Philly music

November 16, 2011

About a year ago I discovered Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile and instantly dug his sound. I even got to see him play live in Calgary during Sled Island last year. It was the night before the Ride to Conquer Cancer charity bike tour but I stayed till he shut the place down, got home at 2:30am, and was up and ready to ride 100k at 6:30. Totally worth it.

So what a surprise to come across The War on Drugs, to also instantly jive with their sound and lyrics, and to learn that this is a band that Vile cofounded. His influence is unmistakable. That languid drawl and fuzzy, filtered sound. There must be something about that corner of PA that fills these guys up to brimming. Like the Ireland of North America. Hard times and a hard scrabble history amongst a pastoral landscape. A working class heritage that refuses to lower its gaze and wears its scars openly, as a matter of fact.

The song conveys the feeling of a homecoming after being away and disconnected. The colors rushing by are the blurred memories of the road, and the way the imagery is shot; in that soft, golden light feels very nostalgic to me. Like old, faded photographs or a warm memory of a summer day. All that speaks of home. The way the drum picks up intensity and force conveys a sense of arrival.His cheer at 1.52 is victory. The words talk of accepting a place, loving it, being proud of it, despite its warts and scars, and then wanting and finding your own place in that familiar land. A piece of home is carried with the singer – ‘all roads lead to me.’ Its a part of him as much as he’s a part of it.

Love it.

Lead me back to the place I’m from
Past the farms and debris
You can see it from the highlands
As you roam ‘long the range

I’ve been on the look for a quiet place
It’s not far from of the range, baby
Take me back to the one I love
It’s not far, it’s on the way

I’ve been ramblin’

Burning tires on my street
Past the roar and debris, baby
All the kids dance around it
But he lacks what he sees

I’ve been drinking up on the sweet teeth
It was made just for me

I’ve been ramblin’
I’m just driftin’

Looking out for the one I love
I’ve been down by the sea, baby
I’ve been up in the highlands
Past the farms and debris

I’ve been rollin’ down on the good stuff
Past the roads I can see, oh babe
Lead me back to the one I love
All roads lead to me

I’ve been movin’
I’ll be driftin’

That kid is so wasted.

February 17, 2011

2nd coldest place on the planet?

November 23, 2010

Which means a pretty definitive end to the Alberta fair weather cycling season, and is all the more reason to be really looking forward to hitting Arizona just after Christmas. Once, when I was a younger and tougher man, I rode on both the hottest and coldest days of the year – and made a point of doing that just ’cause. Today? Nu-uh. Not a chance. Walking the 1.6km to work was enough for me. Bikeridr and work peer KH might throw a leg over a top tube, but he’s got more flint in his veins than I do. When you check it out, Alberta had 6 out of 10 on this Coldest Places on Earth list this morning. Represent!

When this is what you get:

This is what you get:

And thanks to, I can do this while watching the latest Superprestige from Europe – albeit in Dutch, German or Czech – or go for one of the latest USGP of cyclocross races with the coverage. I recently downloaded one of the videos, a 60 min ride that puts you in the peloton, but haven’t tried it out yet. Think I will tonight. Yeah, it sucks, but it’s not that bad and at least its dry.

The work situation is another thing. The heating on the third floor is on the fritz, and has been for a few days. So when you get near the coldest place on the planet, with an inoperative heating system that actually seemed to be blowing cold air, you get some disgruntled people. But in true style our employer, Critical Mass, made the rounds up here the other day handing out hot water bottles, blankets, Baileys and hot chocolate or rum toddies, and Snuggies. There is a table of Snuggies right outside the elevator yesterday. You get out, you get one on, and you walk around looking like Obi Wan. Plus Von Sass is playing the new Walkmen album, which helps as it’s very, very good.

Way over there where the wind come from…

November 9, 2010

This is a powerful song. Wow.

Way over there where the wind come from
I swear i thought i was the only one
Each time i stop to get air well i’m still over there

The silhouette kid’s swinging on a swing
Scrapes his knee and blooded brains
He shows his friends he’s alive as he brags and he jives
Hey. He’s alright. Yeah

They say makin up for lost time
Ain’t makin up for much at all
Sometimes i think gettin older’s oh so last year, yeah

But other times i grab the bull by the horns
Rip em off with calloused hands
Sometimes you cry like a child still get up in the mornin
I was a geezer just last night
Watchin TV no not understandin anything
I scrape my face on the clouds every time i get out
But that’s day time

Some people they use up all their cash
Records and such just sit around but i don’t care about that
People say i’m to blame i guess i think it’s a shame
Oh, but I don’t care. Yeah