Euphonious Fridays – All The Things I Wasn’t


Source: Last.fm

The 80s were renowned for music’s transition from the disco era.  There were lots of synths…lots of fluorescents…and lots of big hair.  In the early part of the decade, a little known band was formed that bucked the trends of the day, and put out some good Canadian folk rock.  Emerging from Kelowna, British Columbia, two brothers and their friend choose the name of a very well-known book and movie that none of them had read or seen:  The Grapes of Wrath.  They signed with Nettwerk Records, arguably one of Canada’s most successful indie labels, released a series of albums throughout the 80s until 1989 when their most successful Now and Again was recorded.  They toured in support of the album with an opening act that you may have heard of:  a little known singer-songwriter named Sarah McLachlan.

On that album was one of the band’s most popular singles, “All The Things I Wasn’t”.  It is a song that has stuck in my mind since I first heard it, but I recently rediscovered it, and have fallen in love with it all over again.  Its simple acoustic melodies and emotional lyrics suggest the story of an unsuccessful relationship between a parent and a child; a mentor and a protégé.  It’s quite lovely.  The piano interlude always gives me shivers…

Due to litigations over the name of the band, they re-formed with minor lineup changes in the 90s as Ginger, again signing with Nettwerk.  After an EP, two albums and several years together, they disbanded in 1997, partially reuniting as The Grapes of Wrath in 2000 to release another album, before calling it quits for good in 2001.

However, music is often a stronger force than those with a gift for it can admit, and they reunited once again in 2009/10 to do perhaps a final round of touring.  It would seem that only time will tell if the band is truly finished gracing us with their presence.

Enjoy!

Hours of hiding, spent apart
The wall was all we’d share
About the closest you could get
About all I would bear

Don’t tell me all the things I wasn’t
Could have made this big a difference
To all the things you are

Years of listening, taking in
To one day take away
From all the guilt and pity I could
Barely keep at bay

Don’t tell me all the things I wasn’t
Could have made this big a difference
To all the things you are

The time apart, I’ve realized
The name’s the most we’ve shared
Unlike you there’s no way I could
Spend forever there

Don’t tell me all the things I wasn’t
Could have made this big a difference
To all the things you are

And a successful find of the video!  Hooray!

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Euphonious Fridays – Floating in the Forth


Source: Frightenedrabbit.com

If you’ve been following along with some of my previous posts for Euphonious Fridays, you might notice that I’m a fan of a lot of bands from the UK.  A lot of them have been electronic groups, but little did I know how much of a fantastic indie scene could be found within the borders of Scotland.

I was introduced to a band called Frightened Rabbit by a former coworker of mine.  We were on our way back to Kitchener from a meeting in Toronto, and he played one of their albums during the drive.  I wasn’t sure at the time which one, but I suspect it may have been the one that this song was taken from – The Midnight Organ Fight.  I recall my first impressions of the album were that the music was very layered, and the singer was very Scottish.  After checking out some more of their work, I quickly became a fan.

Singer-songwriter Scott Hutchison discussed in a 2008 interview with The Pop Cop that almost everything written for The Midnight Organ Fight was based on his state of mind at the time.  He had just gone through the ending of a long time relationship, leaving in its wake a very raw album, both in sound and writing.  “Floating in the Forth” is a song about the suicidal thoughts Hutchison experienced during the dark time following the break up.  He has spoken openly about the experience, and one can only assume that the writing of this album could have been seen as therapeutic for him.  The song talks about how he considered jumping off the bridge into the River Forth, and contains a beautiful transition in the lyrics that goes from “another day” to “another year” – read them, and you see what I mean.  In the interview, he mentioned how in the process of writing the song, he went from thinking of suicide, to realizing it wasn’t what he wanted.  The band has since released their third album in 2010, and things are a little more upbeat.  However, I felt that “Floating in the Forth” was a really powerful song and wanted to share it with you.  Besides…I just love the vocalizations at the end of the song punctuated by the drumbeat.

Enjoy!

So you just stepped out
of the front of my house
and I’ll never see you again.
I closed my eyes for a second
and when they opened
you weren’t there.
And the door shut shut
I was vacuum packed,
shrink-wrapped out of air
And the spine collapsed
and the eyes rolled back
to stare at my starving brain,

And fully clothed, I’ll float away
(I’ll float away)
Down the Forth, into the sea
I think I’ll save suicide for another day.

And I picture this corpse
on the M8 hearse
and I half run away to sleep
On a rolled up coat
against the window
with the strobe of the sun
and the life I’ve led
am I ready to leap
is there peace beneath
the roar of the Forth road bridge?
On the Northern side
is a Fife of mine
and a boat in the port for me,

And fully clothed, I’ll float away
(I’ll float away)
Down the Forth, into the sea
I’ll steer myself
through choppy waves
these manic gulls
scream it’s okay
take your life
give it a shake
gather up
all your loose change
I think I’ll save suicide for another year.

There is no official video for this song from the band, but I came across one that was highly appropriate.  It’s video footage of a group crossing the bridge over the Forth River.  It just works…

Euphonious Fridays – Underwhelmed


Jay Ferguson, Patrick Pentland, Chris Murphy & Andrew Scott (L-R); Source: Breakthruradio.com

When I was back in high school, I was struggling to find myself.  The first couple of years consisted of sending out my feelers to figure out where I fit into in regards to education, friends, society…and most importantly music.  Luckily, at the same time I was doing this, a band was forming on the east coast of Canada that would influence at least the next few years of my musical life – Sloan.

Though now Toronto based, Sloan’s humble beginnings started in 1991 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where two of the members were attending the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.  A year later and a band of four, they created their own record label – Murderecords – to record their debut EP Peppermint, as well as the albums of the very active Halifax music scene.  If you know anything of this scene in the early 90s (I’m looking at you Schar!), you’ll likely have heard of bands like Eric’s Trip, The Super Friendz, Hip Club Groove, Thrush Hermit, The Inbreds and The Hardship Post.  Aside from Sonic Unyon Records out of Hamilton, Ontario, Murderecords produced some of my favourite Canadian indie of the decade that encompassed my high school experience.

Over the band’s twenty year career, Sloan has released twelve albums (including a live album and a best of compilation) and two EPs.  Sloan’s sophomore full length album Twice Removed still ranks up as one of my top albums of all time.  I’m apparently in good company – it’s been highly acclaimed by many music critics and magazines.

The reason I’ve chosen to put the spotlight on Sloan this Friday stems from an event I attended a couple of weeks back.  During the Toonik Tyme Festival in Iqaluit (which I’ll be writing a post on our Nunavut blog soon), Ian and I had the good fortune of volunteering at the big band night which usually flies up a fairly well known band from the south.  This year, a band called The Reason from Hamilton, Ontario was headlining.  They performed a cover of one of my favourite Sloan songs, Underwhelmed.  It was so good that it made me reminisce on those indie rawk days of high school, and I knew I had to post about the song.  I still have yet to see Sloan live…perhaps if I manage to make it on to the Toonik Tyme committee for next year, I can work some magic to get Sloan up here to perform.  Wouldn’t that be awesome!

“Underwhelmed” is a great example of Sloan’s cheeky songwriting – full of their sugar-sweet indie pop rock lyrics – and of their harmonizing.  It can be found on their debut full length Smeared, and in a rawer form on the Peppermint EP.  I can still hear the song and this band’s influence in music by artists like Sam Roberts and Joel Plaskett (formerly of Thrush Hermit, so no surprise there).  It’s songs like this that remind me of how music is supposed to be…hope you enjoy…

She was underwhelmed, if that’s a word
I know it’s not ’cause I looked it up
That’s one of those skills
That I learned in my school

She was overwhelmed
And I’m sure of that one
Cuz I learned it back in grade school
When I was young

She said “You is funny”, I said “You are funny”
She said “Thank you” and I said “Never mind”
She rolled her eyes
Her beautiful eyes

The point is not the grammar
It’s the feeling
That is certainly in my heart
But not in hers

But not in hers
But not in hers
But not in hers
But not in hers

We were talking about people that eat meat
I felt like an ass ’cause I was one
She said “It’s okay”
But I felt like I just ate my young

She is obviously a person with a cause
I told her that I don’t smoke or drink
She told me to loosen up
On the way to the L.C.

She skips her classes and gets good grades
I go to my courses rain or shine
She’s passing her classes
While I attend mine

While I attend mine
While I attend mine
While I attend mine
While I attend

She wrote out a story about her life
I think it included something about me
I’m not sure of that but I’m sure of one thing
Her spelling’s atrocious

She told me to read between the lines
And tell her exactly what I got out of it
I told her affection had two F’s
Especially when you’re dealing with me

I usually notice all the little things
One time I was proud of it, she says it’s annoying
She cursed me up and down
And rolled her R’s, her beautiful R’s

She says I’m caught up in triviality
All I really wanna know is what she thinks of me
I think my love for her makes me miss the point

I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point

I miss the point
I miss the point
I miss the point
Hey mister

Trying to find the video for this song was nearly impossible.  In fact, it’s almost turned this post into Soundful Saturdays or something.  I’ve managed to find a live version of this song from what has to be Sloan’s first live television performance.  It’s so close to the beginning of their career that Patrick even forgets some of the lyrics.  Love it!