Top 20 Spring CDs

Ah, Spring. Spring is the time when everyone loses their minds and starts walking around in shoes with no socks, shirts with no sleeves, and pants that end at the knees even on days when the temperature barely reaches 10-15 degrees Celcius. Or even below that. It depends on how sunny it is and how harsh last winter was.

After completing this top 20, it seems that for me, generally speaking, guitar rythms seem to flow nicely in the windy Spring breeze.

But there are also a few excentricities.

Runner up: Squirrel Nut Zippers, Perennial Favorites (1998) & Hot (1996)

Watch out, the squirrels are coming out swinging to some jazzy bluesy swing revival!

20. Karma Wears White Ties, Wesley (2016)

Ah… a starry Spring night. This indie dreampop/shoegaze band makes me feel like Summer is almost here (even if I had to wear my scarf while waiting for the bus this morning).

19. Louise attaque, Louise attaque (1997)

Louise Attaque’s classic album with its fast violin, guitar, and drumming, fits well on a windy Spring day.

18. Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Last Smoke Before the Snow Storm (2011)

Lovely smooth guitar rythms on a lovely day spent doing nothing at the foot of a large tree, watching the rasy of light through the moving leaves.

17. Jethro Tull, This Was (1968)

Blues rock is always a good idea. It may be Anderson’s flute that gives it a Spring feel.

16. The Rolling Stones, Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (1971)

Rocks are heating up under the Spring sun.

15. Beaties Boys, Paul’s Boutique (1989)

Time for a little Spring garage sale. I’m taking the banjo.

14. Lost in Translation Soundtrack (2003)

Spring’s a time for contemplation and meditation, on all the nuances that are lost in translation (and boy are there many).

13. The Paper Kites, Woodland (2011)

It’s just a bit too early here for a walk in the neighbouring woods (too muddy), so the birds are all alone and consequently overjoyed.

12. Wolf Parade, Apologies to Queen Mary (2005)

This hypnotic music is rather melancholic and might work best on a rainy Spring day.

11. Eric’s Trip, Love Tara (1993)

Remember your teen years, when Spring was about new romantic possibilities… and cruel heartaches.

10. Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes (1983)

Adolescent frustrations are expressed quite differently here. For a very windy Spring day.

9. MC Solaar, Qui sème le vent récolte le tempo (1991)

Solaar’s rythms flow well on a Spring breeze. And Spring is a good time to listen to poetry.

8. Leonard Cohen, Greatest Hits (1975)

Another Spring album that is made for reflection. On an evening perhaps, with a glass of wine. Or at dawn, with tea and oranges (or a glass of wine, it depends how late/early it is).

7. Ani Di Franco, Like I said (1994)

A classic and particularly intimate Ani album, with great acoustic guitar rythms. And, as always, the lyrics hit you straight in the gut (in a good way).

6. Belle and Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003)

LOVE THAT SHIRT.

5. Bob Dylan, The Essential Bob Dylan (2000)

Essential indeed, and incidentally, it all flows quite well through the Spring leaves.

4. Pixies, Waves of Mutilation – Best of Pixies (2004)

My mind is floating nicely.

3. Iron and Wine, Live at Norfolk (2009)

I want to cuddle into this awesome guy’s voice and take in all those nostalgic poetic truths.

2. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation (1988)

A little distortion for rainy Spring evenings.

1. Lou Reed, The Transformer (1972)

Spring chillin.

 

 

 

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Top 20 Summer CDs

Summertime is here! It’s hot, it’s sunny. Now if I could only be on vacation, that’d be great.

As was the case the last time, with winter, I found it harder than expected to figure out what summer actually “sounds” like. And to my surprise, it’s not all about reggay.

About that… funny story : at the beginning, I had two or three ideas at best for this list, and it was pretty much all about reggay, but now I can barely fit all of the albums I thought of in there. The list ended up being a lot more eclectic than expected.

I hope you’ll find some nice musical inspiration here while you’re probably also waiting, at work namely, looking out the window, irritated… waiting for the day when you can say so long y’all, I’m going for a sweet mohito on the terrace of a restaurant right in the middle of this beautiful sunny day.

 

Runners up : ZZ Top, Greatest Hits &  The Dead South, Good Company

These well-known bearded guys from Texas can certainly play some nice blues rock. But come on, forget about ZZ tops!

This folk bluegrass band from the Canadian Prairies, Mumford and Son’s Evil Twins as they call themselves, created the strangest addictive cool summer song.

20. Buena Vista Social Club, Buena Vista Social Club

Named after Havana’s lost mythical night club, this album is a summer classic. I drank so many coffees listening to this music on late Sunday mornings.

19. Ben Harper, Fight for your mind

Enjoy your Summer mornings with Ben Harper’s slide guitar and his classic 1995 album Fight for your mind.

18. Elevator to Hell, Part I to III

Moncton’s indie low-fi psychedelic rock band Elevator chose to illustrate its album with a wintery picture, but paradoxically, it is a great listen in the summer.

17. The XX, The XX

I didn’t know about this London indie electronic pop band until recently, yet I feel this music has been flowing around everywhere since forever (on TV? in the wind?).

16. Ani DiFranco, Dilate

Ani’s critically acclaimed seventh studio album remains a personal favorite, with her signature rapid fingerpicking, crazy guitar tunings, and overall intensity.

15. Lhasa De Sela, La Llorona

Lhasa’s deep voice warms up any atmosphere. Her first album La Llorona is all in Spanish, and it’s such a pleasure to listen to in the summertime.

14. Gotan Project, Lunatico

Argentinean tango blended with electronic music is a strange but cool mix, and Lunatico is certainly a nice atmospheric summer album.

13. Sublime, Sublime

Sublime’s classic 1996 eponymous release may be the sunniest of all punk-ska albums. There is some dub, reggay, and hip hop music in there as well. A joy to rediscover.

12. Mano Negra, Best of

Alternative rock salsa ska punk (really, how can I describe this band?) Paris-based La Mano Negra, “The Black Hand” in Spanish, produced this sunny, energetic and eclectic “best of” after they disbanded. I wish I could have seen them in concert.

11. Zebda, Essence ordinaire

Zebda’s third studio release is a festive yet socially-charged album. These guys (of French and Arab descent, among others), who all grew up together in Toulouse, tell authentic and compelling stories.

10.  Jean Leloup, L’amour est sans pitié

This album tore the place down in Québec in the early 1990s. A young Jean Leloup teamed up with La Sale Affaire and lived, played, and sung at a freaking crazy pace, about urban life, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And summer in Montréal.

9. Janis Joplin, Greatest Hits

Many times, I heard someone say that this person or that person is “the Janis of the 80s”, “of the 90s”, “of the 2000s”, … but in the end, it never stands the test of time. Beautiful soulful Janis… you just rock. And as I listen to your music, I’ll always think of you standing on the stage of the Monterey Festival on that sunny day.

8. Jimmy Hendrix, Are You Experienced?

I don’t know if I’m experienced, but I’ve definitely listened to that album enough times that I know and appreciate the Jimmy Hendrix Experience. Even the colours chosen here for the cover amplify the warmth of his voice and music.

7. Tryo, Grain de sable

Tryo’s signature reggay and folk guitar rythms are a great fit for your summer afternoons. Like their peers Zebda, Tryo knows how to be socially-engaged and festive at the same time.

6. MC Solaar, Prose combat

If you don’t speak French, it’s a dang shame, because MC Solaar is a poet rapper who plays with words like no other. In any case, you’ll still move your head to these suave rythms.

5. Morcheeba, Big Calm

We loved that album right away when it was released. English trip hop electronic band Morcheeba, with its cool beats and jazzy musical exploration, is a nice album to chill out to. Pretty much like the cover implies.

4. Amadou et Mariam, Un dimanche à Bamako

A couple of musicians from Mali, who both became blind in their youth, conveyed their beautiful positive music and immense talent to the world with this classic album. This CD is loved by people of all ages (seriously, my parents have this album, I have it, and my kids love it).

3. Manu Chao, Clandestino

After La Mano Negra and other musical experiments, Manu Chao produced the stripped down Clandestino. With this, he intended to smoothly end his musical career. Ironically, this album, blending traditional latin music, reggay, rock, bresilian rythms, with a hint of chanson française, was a whopping success.

2. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Catch a Fire & Bob Marley, Uprising

It’s not cheating (too much) to have two Bob Marley albums on a Top Summer CDs list. I still listen to Catch a Fire often, but I had forgotten the sunny, upbeat and very catchy Uprising. I’m glad I rediscovered it.

1. Billy Stewart, Summertime

Janis’ version of Summertime is magical, but Billy Stewart’s is… just… mindblowing. Forget about Despacito (seriously, forget it)! THIS is the ultimate Summer song!

 

Summery fun fact : there are three (awesome) versions of Summertime in this list.