Tuesday, July 15, 2008

LB's Music Pick of the Week

Good morning fabulous readers! I'm starting another new weekly feature to go with the "Bag of the Week", which has gotten positive feedback so far. Every week, LB, my wonderful and talented writer of a husband with the best music taste of anyone I know {with possible exceptions to Mike and Tara} will share with us his pick of the week. I turn it over to him now.

In thinking about a music recommendation for my beautiful and talented bride’s blog, I thought the most appropriate place to begin with was the record that best represents the confluence of our tastes. We chose a song off of the Weakerthans’ 2000 record Left and Leaving to be the first song we danced to at our wedding. That fact probably says all that needs to be said about the place this band holds in our heart. Left and Leaving was their second record and remains probably their best. John K. Samson, the singer/songwriter at the front of the band, has a gift with words. He can create characters and settings with short, simple phrases and his lyrics have always been the strength of the band. What this record does amazingly well is pair the sparse, spare poetry with fittingly intricate and engaging music.

Not without its rockers, the record starts with the slow, delicate “Everything Must Go” that lists the motley assortment of a personal garage sale and proceeds at the pace of a garage sale shopper. From there it jumps right into "Aside" and rushes through both it and another three minute rocker "Watermark". Even these up tempo songs are punctuated by sharp turns of phrase like "rely a bit too heavily on alcohol and irony, get clobbered on by courtesy." Instead of guitar solos, guitarist Stephen Carroll is heard in little flourishes that seem to come in and out like harmonies. The rhythm section get their chance as well, with John Sutton's prominent bass line marching "Pamphleteer" as if pushing back against a Winnipeg winter wind and Jason Tait's rolling percussion pulling Samson's lyrics like the tide on "Without Mythologies". But as with so many of its characters, the album holds something back and refuses to reveal perhaps its two best songs until the end. "Exiles Among You" builds through two verses before coming to a near halt to inform us that "She shoplifts, some Christmas gifts, and a bracelet for herself. And considers phoning home, has some quarters in her hand. But she sits down on the sidewalk and bites her bottom lip, and spends the afternoon willing traffic lights to change." It then erupts, jumping past where it left off and careening onward. "My Favourite Chords" follows it with a simple, strummed guitar and almost spoken lyrics. It adds to layers as it progresses but remains simple and clear where "Exiles" layers and crowds. The story of lovers who meet at a construction site with things like a "swiss army knife and a bottle of something" seemed too good to pass up when selecting our wedding song.

Every time Kaili and I make our way to the end of the record or can convince them to play it live, we are rewarded with memories of circling the dance floor and singing quietly to one another to the tune of a lovely slow turn. With a little bit of everything and an impeccable sense of when to speed up and when to slow down, Left and Leaving remains our favourite record and there is something to be said for something that can be loved together.

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