Friday, December 18, 2009

Best of 2009

Rather than write out the whys and explanations this year I've included auditory proof. At the bottom find two downloads featuring one track from each of these top 50 albums. The tracks are in reverse order... from 50 to 01.

But really you can trust me. These are the best albums of 2009. Or you can debate it... I welcome the challenge.

Backstreet Fredericton

01 Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

02 Antony and The Johnsons - The Crying Light

03 The Decemberists - The Hazards Of Love

04 The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away

05 Iron and Wine - Around The Well

06 Castanets - Texas Rose the Thaw and the Beasts

07 Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
08 Hallelujah The Hills - Colonial Drones

09 Megafaun - Gather, Form and Fly

10 Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca     
11 Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs               
12 Akron/Family - Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free               
13 The Mountain Goats - The Life Of The World To Come           
14 Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem   
15 Atlas Sound - Logos               
16 Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle               
17 Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy           
18 Charles Spearin - The Happiness Project               
19 The Antlers - Hospice          
20 The Dutchess and the Duke - Sunrise / Sunset   
21 Timber Timbre - Timber Timbre   
22 Zak Sally - Fear Of Song   
23 Tiny Vipers - Life on Earth   
24 Slaraffenland - We're on Your Side
25 The Pastels / Tenniscoats - Two Sunsets 
26 Alec Ounsworth - Mo Beauty       
27 Pink Mountaintops - Outside Love
28 Throw Me the Statue - Creaturesque   
29 Thao with the Get Down Stay Down - Know Better Learn Faster           
30 The Rural Alberta Advantage - Hometowns   
31 Japandroids - Post-Nothing   
32 The Curious Mystery - Rotting Slowly   
33 Vic Chesnutt - At The Cut           
34 To Kill A Petty Bourgeoisie - Marlone               
35 Simone White - Yakiimo           
36 Girls - Album           
37 Harlem Shakes - Technicolor Health       
38 Bowerbirds - Upper Air   
39 BLK JKS - After Robots           
40 Sonic Youth - The Eternal   
41 Rick White - 137           
42 David Sylvian - Manafon   
43 Helado Negro - Awe Owe              
44 Six Organs of Admittance - Luminous Night           
45 Why?Eskimo Snow          
46 Here We Go Magic - Here We Go Magic           
47 Taken By Trees - East of Eden       
48 Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Beware           
49 Le Loup - Family
50 Nurses - Apples Acres

Part one: of 2009 - 50to26.mp3
Part two: of 2009 - 25to01.mp3

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Constantines Turn Ten

The Lion Kings

Even if calling them “Young Lions” might be a stretch nowadays, the Constantines’ tenth-anniversary shows will certainly be ferocious

Like the Canadian Pacific Railway, this country’s independent music scene was built on the backs and blood and sweat of fiercely determined men and women. And if the hard-won scaffolding of an infrastructure was already in place when the Constantines first started playing shows in Guelph a decade ago, we can credit those fine boys with helping provide the Canadian indie-rock community with the heart and soul and tenacity it so sorely needed.

Crazy, huh? It’s been 10 years since the ferocious howls of Bry Webb and Steve Lambke first pierced our collective consciousness. Today, we have them (and bandmates Dallas Wehrle, Doug MacGregor and Will Kidman, as well as former colleague Evan Gordon, now making Magic) to thank for helping forge a new breed of true Canadian rock ’n’ roll, a system of musculature to overlie the skeletal system that was already in place when the Cons started kicking out the jams.

Read rest of article at Eye Weekly

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Exile of Satan from Heavy Metal Design

Good article on recent development in cover design for Metal albums. Sample:

by Alan Rapp at Print website

Those "heavy metal" bands that debuted during that first palmy MTV generation sound like nontoxic pop compared to today’s vast offerings of subaltern metal genres, where intricate is the new heavy, and glacially slow is far more radical than hyperfast. Metal has evolved in such diverse directions—drawing from and crossing over with punk, math rock, noise, and avant-garde musical threads—that perhaps the real surprise is how audiences who never thought of themselves as metalheads are now exploring bands with names like Baroness, Gojira, Isis, and SUNN O))).

Detail from the 2009 Isis album Wavering Radiant

Heavy metal has evolved visually as well. Gone are the fantasy illustrations of radioactive zombies and band logos composed of overlapping swords. After a generation of sprouting subgenres, the heavy metal field is littered with a diversity of styles that even the most hardy metalhead will have trouble encompassing. As Ian Christe, author of Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal and publisher of the metal-oriented press Bazillion Points says, "Heavy metal design is not a monolithic form at all. You have everything from junior high school kids in Iowa drawing skulls and pentagrams and band logos to Norwegian design houses making skulls and pentagrams and band logos. There are all levels of sophistication and intention—and execution."

Read more.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Orphans more interesting.

I just discovered that The AV Club also posted a list called "Orphans."  It consists of 50 albums from 2000-2009 that were favourites of their reviewers that didn't make the Best of the Decade list.  I have to say, quickly browsing the lists... I probably listen to most of these albums way more than the ones on the official Best of list.

End of Decade lists.

The desire to make sense of our times through lists... it's provocative, it's lazy, it's fun, it's impossible. We're doing it. But in the meantime here are links to a couple of sources that have compiled top 50 albums of the Decade lists:

Paste Magazine

Safe choices: Arcade Fire, Animal Collective, Flaming Lips
Odd choices: Loretta Lynn, Pedro the Lion


The Onion AV Club

Safe choices:  Grizzly Bear, TV on the Radio, The Strokes
Odd choices:  McClusky, Fugazi

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October's ten you may have missed:

Built to Spill - There is No Enemy (Warner)



Monsters of Folk - S/T (Artist First)

Hallelujah the Hills - Colonial Drones (Misra)

Volcano Choir - Unmap (Jagjaguwar)

Glass Ghost - Idol Omen (Western Vinyl)

Califone - All My Friends Are Funeral Singers (Dead Oceans)

Evangelista - Prince of Truth (Constellation)

Why? - Eskimo Snow (Anticon)

Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love - Feels, Feather, Bogs and Bees (Other Electricities)

Mudhoney - Superfuzz Bigmuff/ s/t / Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (Sub Pop)

Ltd. Coloured Vinyl Reissues

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

October event...

Upcoming in Backstreet Saint John:

Monday October 5th:

Free instore performance w/


Go time is Lunch time... which is when you have lunch... or when he has lunch... just call the store for more details, ok?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ten to recommend

Here is a quickie featuring ten albums from the last couple of months you may have missed... but that you should not continue to miss... if you can help it.

01) Bill Callahan - Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle (Drag City)

Second effort under his own name after retiring the Smog pseudomnym. This is a little more sedate and tuneful affair with strings and brass and the whole shmear. Like most of Callahan's albums what's going on takes a few listens to sink in... I think it's mostly about loss and spirit guides, but it could just be about a walk in the woods. You be the judges.

02) Rick White Album - 137 (Blue Fog)

Another gentleman whose been using his own name, instead of the Eric's Trip or Elevator variations. Like the previous couple on Blue Fog it slides back and forth across the many heavy psychedelic sounds from the repertoire.

03) Bowerbirds - Upper Air (Dead Oceans)

Second album from the guitar, accordion and bass drum trio. It's more assured and deeper lyrically but with all the sweet melodies you demand. Fans of Decemberists who found the last albums too "conceptual" take note... but shame on you, though.

04) Desolation Wilderness - New Universe (K)

Because you can never have too much Beach Boys, Velvet Underground or Damon & Naomi these young men have seen fit to combine all three and save you countless listening hours.

05) Helado Negro - Awe Owe (Asthmatic Kitty)

Savath and Savalas / Prefuse 73 collaborator Roberto Carlos Lange drops his first indie Tropacalia album... and it's a good one. It's got the historical Os Mutantes and Antonio Carlos Jobim touches with little bits of tasteful electronics to get modernistic with it. Helado Negro = Black Ice Cream.

06) Lightning Dust - Infinite Light (Jagjaguwar)

Second side project album by Joshua and Amber from Black Mountain. Sounds are more varied and less mournful, though gray clouds persist at the horizon.

07) Throw Me the Statue - Creaturesque (Secretly Canadian)

I know there was an odd spike in local popularity for TMTS when their debut came... and this follow-up does not disappoint. Nothing that worked last time has been discarded, only polished a little and with hints of Weezer and Joe Jackson to keep all the sad sacks happy. Problematically.

08) Ramona Falls - Intuit (Barsuk)

The three guys in Menomena are all infuriatingly talented and multi-instrumental. This first side project from Brent Knopt is rife with guests and therefore sounds not so much like his parent band and more like all the good things about the 80s that most bands trying to sound 80s-ish miss.

09) Ohbijou - Beacons (Last Gang)

It's just as cute as their last one, but ten times more ass-kicking. Get it in prep for their late October appearence w/ The Acorn at The Charlotte St. Art Centre.

10) Years - S/T (Arts and Crafts)

Where Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning hogged all the Broken Social Scene side project attention last year... this year Charles Spearin and now Ohad Benchetrit (both also of Do Make Say Think) have cool and intriguingly left field albums. Ohad is Years and his instrumental album is the sort of acoustic vs. electronic mixdown that you'd normally get from more high brow labels like H├Ąpna or Type... isn't it nice when you can buy domestic, though?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Damien Jurado

OK... so it's autumn... school's back in session. September and October are traditionally chock full of hot new releases to coincide with band's fall tours and festival season. And I'll get to what's been hot-slash-cool over the last couple of months and what's coming up... soon.

But first, one of my new pet projects is to start spotlighting artists that are favourites of mine... especially ones that seem to always be drifting just under the radar.

First up Damien Jurado

From his debut, Waters Ave. S. on Sub Pop in 1997 to last year's Caught in the Trees on Secretly Canadian, Jurado has released eight full length albums and more than a handful of cool singles and e.p.s. Waters Ave. S. was a mostly gentle and downbeat singer/songwriter affair that sat easily alongside Elliott Smith with it's easy lyricism and hushed heart-on-sleeve delivery. A couple of albums later, with I Break Chairs (Sub Pop, 2002), he amped things up with a full band and rocked out in a Springteen/Nebraska kinda way. Switching over to Secretly Canadian in 2003, he released Where Shall You Take Me?, probably the most generic of his albums. From that point on the next three albums have been incredibly solid and and moving. There is a small town Midwest feel to his songwriting that often focuses on the after effects of violence and identifies with the villains and their fated lives. His band crystallized to it's current three piece incarnation over these last three albums as well. Eric Fisher has been a longtime collaborator and brings a great arranger's ear (there is a powerfully understated use of both organ and guitar drone to create tension on most of his albums). Jenna Conrad on bass and backing vocals has been a strong presence for some time, but especially on last year's Caught in the Trees where her vocals are under almost all of Jurado's, giving an extra layer of richness and warmth.

Here is a short four track mix of songs from albums now available instore... and for special order if we happen to run out:

.mp3 15 minutes, 12 seconds
20.9 MB

(1) What Were the Chances from And Now That I'm in Your Shadow (2006)

(2) Like Titanic from I Break Chairs (2002)

(3) I Am the Mountain from On My Way to Absence (2005)

(4) Last Rights from Caught in the Trees (2008)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The cold round truth.

There may be the notion that we record store clerks spend every day knee deep in rare and wonderous vinyl... but here is a peek at what about 75% of the collections people bring in look like:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Almost Summer.

Hey all.

As some of you eagle-eyed folks may have noticed the site has been lacking in regular updates since Springtime. Many apologies.

Rather than do a catch up megapost I thought I'd just mention a few highlights that have been making us smile in the store the last couple of months.

As well the long-running format of just posting new arrivals wasn't really what I'd had in mind when I started the page. Always meant to have more commentary and spotlights and complaints and epiphanies but that didn't really happen. So let's give it another go, shall we?

First up the big noise albums over the last few months:

Burning Hell - Baby (Weekwerk)

Japandroids - Post Nothing (Unfamiliar)

Akron/Family - Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free (Dead Oceans)

Pink Mountaintops - Outside Love (Jagjaguwar)

Dog Day - Concentration (Outside)

Apostle of Hustle
- Eats Darkness (Arts & Crafts)

Grizzly Bear - Veckamitest (Warp)

Dirty Projectors
- Bitte Orca (Domino)

Hayden - Place Where We Lived (Hardwood)

Sorry no new video yet.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Upcoming Townes Van Zandt Tribute Night

Backstreet Saint John presents: "For The Sake Of The Song"

The tribute to the late Townes Van Zandt will be at Backstreet Records Friday, June 19 with a dozen musical guest to be announced shortly. Steve Earle just released his tribute "Townes" (BUY it!) - we consider TVZ to be one of the best songwriters of all time! We will also be showing the documentary film about Townes entitled "Be Here to Love Me" which is brilliant i might add.Check out to learn more about the myth, the man, the legend that is Townes! Refreshments and Popcorn will be served!

'Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that" -Steve Earle

The Music is Alive!

For further information call Backstreet Records at 506-693-9425

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Amelia Curran video/Live Backstreet SJ.

RSD update.

Notes on the upcoming

We will be featuring a fine lineup of live music for your shopping/listening pleasure... the official announcement of whos and hows is coming very shortly.

One unfortunate aspect of this second year's planning by the people in charge is that the varied and interesting exclusive releases that labels like Matador and Sub Pop are offering are available only in the US and the UK. They've relayed to me that they hope to have a better Canadian plan for next year, but that leaves us in the dust for now.

I apologize to any I may have unintentionally misled up 'til now. It was more due to ignorance than stupidity... though they are neck and neck most days.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Marching March Marches.

Decemberists - Hazards of Love (Capitol)

Julie Doiron - I Can Wonder What You Did (Jagjaguwar)

Madeleine Peyroux - Bare Bones (Rounder)

Propagandhi - Supporting Caste (Smallman)

White Lies - To Lose My Life (Geffen)

Harmonic 313 - When Machines Exceed... (Warp)

John Frusciante - The Empyrean (Record Collection)

Mountains - Choral (Thrill Jockey)

Phosphorescent - To Willie (Dead Oceans)

Psychic Ills - Mirror Eye (The Social Registry)

J. Tillman - Vacilando Territory Blues (Phantom)

Strange Boys - and Girls Club (In the Red)

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band - S/T (Dead Oceans)

These Are Powers - All Aboard Future (Dead Oceans)

Odawas - Blue Depths (Jagjaguwar)

BLK JKS - Mystery (Secretly Canadian)