Print Edition: March 26, 2014
For the next two Monday afternoons at AfterMath, local solo artists will be competing in CIVL’s singer-songwriter battle. Experimental music jockey Brandon Greaves is judging the competition, and has provided five exemplary solo acts in honour of this contest.
Paul McCartney — “Too Many People”
McCartney’s second solo record, Ram, is possibly the best thing any of the Beatles did after the split. It was gutsy, yet relentlessly made fun of at the time for not being Beatles-y enough. He gets some things off his chest; the opening track takes a resentful swipe at John and Yoko for being so preachy.
Elliott Smith — “Say Yes”
Smith’s career was launched by Heatmiser, a great but short-lived alt-rock band from Portland. He claimed to have left the group because loud rock music wasn’t providing the opportunity to be sincere, and indeed it was his articulate transparency in songs like “Say Yes” that later made him the patron saint of depressed young people.
Aimee Mann — “Columbus Avenue”
In her post-’Til Tuesday career, Mann has shifted from new wave pop to melancholy folk songs about alcoholism, washed-up pugilists, and more generally, broken dreams. Her lyrics here paint a picture of a grim neighbourhood where lives are lived poorly.
AC Newman — “The Heartbreak Rides”
Newman’s solo work tends to sound a little too much like The New Pornographers, being largely comprised of group vocals and pop hooks repeated ad nauseam into fade-outs. He can do indie pop well enough on his own, but removing the influence of bandmate Dan Bejar simply produces a less special New Pornographers album.
Yoko Ono — “Goodbye Sadness”
Yoko’s first album after the death of John Lennon, Season of Glass, is the most intense thing I have ever heard, covering the most profoundly soul-crushing subject matter imaginable. Her ability to turn tragedy into art within six months is a testament to a uniquely creative spirit.