Friday, October 2, 2009

Pick of the Week #39: Chad VanGaalen and A Polaris Apology (sort of)

Some of you, and one Polaris juror, responded and articulated how wrong I was about the Polaris Jury’s decision to award the big prize to Toronto hardcore outfit Fucked Up. To paraphrase the earlier post, I said that the jury picked Fucked Up to maintain its relevance as an artistic prize because it was the most different album, and that I didn’t really understand how the jury came to the decision that The Chemistry of Common Life deserved the $20,000 prize.

On the first count, I was definitely off base. I wasn’t in the jury room and I shouldn’t have made that leap assuming that I knew what was going on in the collective heads of the jurors. As with any group decision (see, for example the election of Stephane Dion as leader of the Liberals, or Joe Clark for the Conservatives in the 80s) the end choice of a group may be everyone's second choice. Of course, maybe it wasn't, and I guess the overriding point is that I don't know, and I shouldn't've assumed. So, there, I digress.

On the second count, that Fucked Up didn't deserve the Polaris, I still feel pretty strongly about that. I don’t get hardcore music, I’ve never got into that scene, so when my friend Cam suggested that it was a really progressive, genre bending album, my response was, huh? I just hear shouting… Oh, the shouting! I mean, it’s different than virtually every other Polaris nominee ever – as far as I’m concerned – and I’m all for encouraging different types of music, but it's still gotta be "the best". On the other hand, I suppose I should be giving props to the jury for picking something different. It’s not like they picked Metric or Great Lake Swimmers, who put out great albums, but were doing more or less what they’ve been doing for the last 4-5 years.

And I suppose you could say the same thing about Chad VanGaalen, who would’ve been my choice. He’s been doing strange, creepy, electro-influenced folk songs since Infiniheart came out in 2004?, but Soft Airplane was just so, so, good and nearly everyone agreed when the year came to an end last year. He won Matthew[I(heart)music]’s hottest Canadian Bands ’08, what more do you want from the guy? An album full of B-Sides that could've been a Polaris winner? Yeah, well, he's got that too.

After spending some time with the B-Sides, which are, in my estimation, a lot stranger, more electronic and a lot more "artistic"... I'm wondering whether excluding them from the album, which was lauded by many for being more accessible (less weird), might have hurt CVG. In any event, I'll get over it (actually, I probably won't), but at least I'll have something to complain about for a while...

[mp3] Chad VanGaalen - Corvette
[mp3] Chad VanGaalen - Did you find peace?
[mp3] Chad VanGaalen - I wish I was a dog (ft. Julie Doiron and Fred Squire)

Oh yeah, the whole EP is available for free at Soft

Pick of the Week #1: Ketch Harbour Wolves
Pick of the Week #2: Rah Rah
Pick of the Week #3: Glasvegas/Animal Collective
Pick of the Week #4: Bruce Peninsula
Pick of the Week #5: The Antlers
Pick of the Week #6: The Darcys
Pick of the Week #7: Ohbijou (Swift Feet for Troubling Times)
Pick of the Week #8:
Gentlemen Husbands
Pick of the Week #9: Chris Whitley
Pick of the Week #10: Alela Diane
Pick of the Week #11: K'naan
Pick of the Week #12: TOR/Sufjan Stevens
Pick of the Week #13: Timber Timbre
Pick of the Week #14: Justis
Pick of the Week #15: Hibiscus & Rosehips Compilation
Pick of the Week #16: Patrick Watson
Pick of the Week #17: Olenka and the Autumn Lovers
Pick of the Week #18: The Liptonians
Pick of the Week #19: Sunparlour Players
Pick of the Week #20: Black Hat Brigade
Pick of the Week #21: Howie Beck
Pick of the Week #22: Pink Mountaintops
Pick of the Week #23: Still Life Still
Pick of the Week #24: Hayden
Pick of the Week #25: Snailhouse
Pick of the Week #26: Dog Day
Pick of the Week #27: Ohbijou (Beacons)
Pick of the Week #28: Dog is Blue
Pick of the Week #29: Parkas
Pick of the Week #30: The Wooden Sky
Pick of the Week #31: Bowerbirds
Pick of the Week #32: Miss Maya
Pick of the Week #33: Ben Folds Presents ...
Pick of the Week #34: Mantis
Pick of the Week #35: Diamond Rings
Pick of the Week #36: The Wilderness of Manitoba
Pick of the Week #37: Asher Roth
Pick of the Week #38: Julie Doiron


Kurtis said...

your taste in music is sub-par

Maria said...

Well, I don't wanna sound obnoxious, but even though you don't get the hardcore genre - and I'm okay with that - you should know that Fucked Up is widely considered (by many people outside the hardcore scene) one of the most important bands of the decade. I mean, there has been critical consensus about them, and their crowd is also not restricted to the scenesters: Fucked Up is not just another hardcore band, or it wouldn't get any attention. And their work has gained way more recognition (and check out the reviews on their albums) than, for instance, Metric's or anyone else on that list... So, it was an obvious pick, I think.

The R.O.B. said...

Kurtis - I'll post a track with Jamaican gun noises in it next week...

Maria - not obnoxious in the slightest. But, I guess with hardcore music I'm not sure that I have a real metric for measuring how good they are. With hip-hop, which I imagine a few readers here don't get, you can look at production (which to me is the most important thing), their rhyming, flow, etc.,etc., etc.

With hardcore, I just don't get it, but I'm genuinely curious - what makes a good hardcore album?

ack said...

I think the point of the record is that it is more than just a hardcore album. I mean, I think the best hardcore record this year was Bison BC.. no doubt.. but F*cked Up did things on this record that are bigger than just "hardcore." They merged shoegaze and layers - 17 guitar sounds on one track? - and made a record people can strive to recreate...

5 years from now, harcore kids writing songs will look to this record as a way to get better....

bathmate said...

nice posting. very good work. thank you. :)