45 rpm: Third Eye Blind – “If There Ever Was a Time”

For a band who has only four albums to their name over the last 14 years, it comes as a surprise that Third Eye Blind would release a song in support of Occupy Wall Street. This marks the first release by the band since 2009’s Ursa Major, and first to feature new guitarist Kryz Reid. “If There Ever Was a Time” recalls the kind of ubiquitous protest songs of the 1960s; it’s a straightforward plea – aimed squarely at America’s youth – to join the movement. The song is not overtly damning or as political as a track like “Don’t Believe a Word,” nor does it share that song’s biting anger. It is however, a fine one-off single, and a reminder that Third Eye Blind are, indeed, still an active unit. Some might write the song and (the band) off by unfairly comparing it to “Semi-Charmed Life,” though both share upbeat tempos and catchy choruses. To do so, however, would be to miss the bigger picture about the importance of supporting Occupy Wall Street and the need to do away with economic inequality, unemployment, greed, and corruption. You can listen to the song below and download it for free from the band’s Facebook page.


Mötley Crüesdays: “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)”

Released in September of 1989, Dr. Feelgood would become Mötley Crüe’s signature album, thanks in part to their massive popularity and the ubiquity of the album’s five singles. “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” the fourth single, peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100, and is fairly typical in terms of 80s Crüe, musically and lyrically. Also, it’s one of the best tracks, with an exuberant and undeniably catchy energy.

45 rpm: “England” – The National

At the close of 2010, I named Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as the best album of the year. However, ten months into 2011 the album from last year that seems to get the most play around this house is The National’s High Violet. In many ways, High Violet‘s best track, “England,” is the ultimate National song. It begins slowly, moodily building toward a raucous, muscular refrain that is as cathartic as it is catchy thanks to the band’s tight arrangements (and Brian Devendorf’s propulsive drumming). Matt Berringer’s vaguely Stipian lyrics are are typically opaque, evoking grand images of cathedrals, angels, London, and Los Angeles. Breathtaking stuff.

45 rpm: “Akira” – Mishima

Taking their name from the Japanese poet/author/playwright/actor/filmmaker, Waterloo/Toronto-based band Mishima announce themselves with a confident swagger on their debut single “Akira.” With its immediate and rushing chorus of “ain’t nobody gonna slow me down!” the track is a synth-driven funk-workout that moves like a freight train. Reminiscent of Afrika Bambaataa’s “Renegades of Funk,” “Akira” is a cool, cocky, 5 minute sexy dance party. Mishima will be playing at the El Mocambo in Toronto on August 12 with The Ascot Royals and Love Banshee.

45 rpm: “Daydreamer” – Menswear

During the heyday of Britpop, every week there were seemingly endless numbers of like-sounding bands coming out of the woodwork. Menswear were signed to London Records after only three (3!) shows, and their full-length debut, Nuisance, appeared in late 1995. They gained their share of notoriety and detractors by appropriating not only the sound, but the looks of their betters like Blur and Pulp (actually, lead singer Johnny Dean kind of looks like Elastica’s Justine Frischmann). The single “Daydreamer” may be derivative of these bands, but it’s undeniably brilliant. Despite making minor waves with other singles such as “Sleeping In” and “I’ll Manage Somehow,” the band faded into obscurity, and their 1998 follw-up, Hay Tiempo!, was released only in Japan. As it stands, Menswear hold a place as a punchy, 2-minute footnote in the annuls of pop music.

45 rpm: “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” – Coldplay

If you know me, you know I am not a fan of Coldplay and their brand of white wine/dinner party rock. I do not like Chris Martin’s “rock star” posturing and the fact that he’s married to Gwyneth Paltrow (who cannot cease to annoy me). So this is just an excuse to harp on them, really. This new single, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” (which, as a friend and colleague pointed out, is a punchline in itself) from their forthcoming album sounds as though they’re continuing down the path of 2008’s Viva la Vida. Sounding like some amalgam of Joshua Tree-era U2 and Dream Acadamy’s “Life in a Northern Town,” the video for “Every Teardrop” has an appropriately 80s feel to it, intentional or not. The funny thing is, despite its calculated nostalgic sound and overwrought, goofy, cheeseball lyrics (“I’d rather be a comma than a full stop!”), it doesn’t sound half bad. Actually, it probably would sound pretty good on the radio in 1988 sandwiched between “Life in a Northern Town” and “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Alas, this is not 1988 and I do not listen to the radio, so I’ll probably forget about “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and put some U2 and Dream Academy on my iPod.

45 rpm: “Go Home and Dream” – Trap Tiger

Southern Ontario thought-pop/indie group Trap Tiger released one of 2010’s most ambitious (and best) albums with Twisted Shapes. Even with their intricate arrangements on tracks like “Go Home and Dream,” the band never gets wrapped up in naval-gazing or showing off, always keeping a keen eye on their pop sensibilities.