Thursday, December 31, 2009

Quickie Winnipeg round-up: 2009

photo by Kieran 2009

2009 produced the usual batch of excellent sounds from Winnipeg artists. I got some suggestions for some kind of best of list, but there's enough of those out there already. Nevertheless, I don't mind briefly running down notable local artists, some of whom I've touched on before and some I haven't. For some strange reason, the upper half of the alphabet has been ruling the roost lately as far as beginning letters for band names, at least as far as the ones Scruffy's been digging. As a matter of fact, what's with all the brilliant bands begining with the letter P?

Paper Moon gets my vote as the band most likely to be ridiculously successful beyond Manitoba borders. Consistently good songwriting, sweet vocals, and exceptional production choices make PM one to watch.

On the much heavier and much more political end of the spectrum, Propagandhi ended up on top of Exclaim! magazine's best o' the year heap and rocked the magazine cover. The band's album, Supporting Caste, was named punk rock album of the year. Propagandhi's blend of punk rock ideology and metallic instrumentation put 'em on the rails to...even greater popularity? Critical acclaim? (Gasp!) Financial success?!? An anti-corporate band in every way, they've still managed to sell tons of cds in corporate record stores and make fans of those who aren't neither punk devotees, metal experts, or politically brilliant, and may have actually worked in one of those evil villain chain record stores (like me).

The Perms kept up their record of launching modern rock missiles on an unsuspecting world with Keeps You Up When You're Down. The guys and director Jeff Bromley manage to get in shots of the back of the Zoo, the front of the Albert, prudent Wpg fashion, inexplicable sucking-on-a-Slurpee-in-winter behaviour, and goofy band behaviour in this vid.

Enough with the "P" bands. my favourite release of the year was The Rowdymen's Gas, Liquor, and Fireworks. The band have been digging deep into the roots of rock 'n' roll for a long time (hey, Eddie Cochrane!), but this time they dug deeper into the country artists that were badasses before Sid Vicious was a t-shirt, Cobain was a martyr, and Marilyn Manson was a tired attempt at controversy. If you thought The Rowdymen was "just" a rockabilly band, you haven't listened to Jason Allen's songs that took the group out into dustbowl territory like a drunk astronaut with a serious roots music jones. Hint: who was given the nickname "Possum"?

The Rowdymen - Ode to Possum

The Rowdymen - Rode Hard

The Western States bucked the whole Autotune trend and trekked down to Texas just to record live to tape, no digital effects or computer tomfoolery allowed. If rock and roll never happened, Neil Young and Gram Parsons were on all the cool teen clothing shops' badges, t-shirts and patches, and subtlety and restraint were commended in our plastic world, the Western States would be sittin' pretty. The following tune starts as bare bones as can be, but grows into a different animal altogether - listen closely to that sparking guitar near the end, it sends me to the moon.

The Western States - The Road is Dark as the Night

Sights & Sounds is a band that pulls in so many different flavours they're hard to describe. Total hardcore assault, fragile piano bits and intimate in-your-ear-vocals, some ambient sounds, beautiful layered harmonies - they don't fit a genre. Post-hardcore?

Grand Analog I've mentioned before, but again, this is a band that doesn't readily fit any genre. The band has had one song used on TV show 90210, and there are so many points of reference in the tunes on Metropolis is Burning, I wouldn't be surprised to see more popping up all over the place.

1 comment:

Albert Bannatyne said...

That Paper Moon song is great, but the video is a puzzler... I get the reference to Say Anything, but are the other little vignettes also referencing other movies? And why pay a little homage to Say Anything - the song sounds nothing like In Your Eyes. Bits of it echo Melt With You I guess, but just barely. so maybe they should have homaged Valley Girl...

Happy birthday.