Tag Archives: Johnny Cash

Generation (In Loving Memory of Hugues Alonzo Chicoine 1948-2016)

A mix inspired by my beloved father, Hugues Chicoine, who passed away peacefully on September 2, 2016, at the age of 67. The mix contains music that we shared, that was at the core of our relationship throughout the 47 years we had together, all favourites of ours/his/mine; I feel truly blessed to have had the chance of having him as a father and as a guide to all this wonderful music, and so much more… That’s all I can say: thank you Hugues!

Generation (In Loving Memory of Hugues Alonzo Chicoine 1948-2016)

1. Father and SonJohnny Cash feat. Fiona Apple
Dad loved Cat Stevens, and of all his songs, this one is my favourite because of the line “From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen”, which I find amazing to describe the conflicting relation between childhood and fatherhood. I’m a big fan of Cash and Apple, so their version seemed more than appropriate to open this homage.

2. The Ink in the WellDavid Sylvian
Dad introduced me to Japan in my early teens, and we followed Sylvian when he embarked on his solo career. Brilliant Trees is one of the CDs that played the most in our apartment in the 80s.

3. The RainbowTalk Talk
Spirit of Eden remains one of our favourite albums of all time, yes even more than Laughing Stock, which is generally regarded as a better album. The Rainbow was my favourite track. I don’t think dad had a favourite one; he viewed the whole album as a single masterpiece.

4. Somebody Up There Likes YouSimple Minds
If there is one album that could be said to be THE album that was “Us”, it’s definitely Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream. The first time I flew on a plane—to go visit dad in Toronto while he was studying photography at Ryerson—I had made myself a mixtape and this song is the one I chose for when the plane would take off. The title is also befitting of a musical eulogy, obviously, and the Minds chose this title as an homage to David Bowie and his song Somebody Up There Likes Me.

5. Architecture and MoralityOrchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Another one of our classics. Hugues was a big OMD fan, up until at least A&M, not sure he enjoyed Dazzle Ships and their following pop phase, but this title track to their 1981 album was one of his favourites after Julia’s Song, which appears later in this mix.

6. Holiday on the MoonLove and Rockets
This was the soundtrack to our trip to Cancun in 1986. Dad loved the lyrics and super slow pace of this one, just as I do.

7. Opus for Four/Debut/E. F. L.The Art of Noise
This one is not necessarily one that dad especially liked, but it is one that I deeply associate with him on an emotional level.

8. The Other Side of HeavenKissing the Pink
Another lesser know band dad introduced me to, he was more of a fan of their Naked album while I preferred What Noise?, and especially this song, whose title was befitting here.

9. Horse With No NameSeelenluft
To open the 60–70’s section of this homage, I decided to use a cover version, once more. Dad loved this 1971 hit by America, but I don’t think I ever played this 2007 version by the Swiss Beat Solèr for him. I’m pretty sure he would’ve enjoyed it.

10. Carpet CrawlersGenesis
Aaah! Genesis. A major part of my childhood. Dad, mom and my Uncle Jean-François, dad’s youngest brother (we’re only 12 years apart) even took me to see the Selling England by the Pound tour at Montréal’s CEPSUM in 1974 when I was 4. But The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was definitely his—and my—favourite Genesis album, by far. I could’ve used any song from that album on this mix, but Carpet Crawlers is one of the songs that reminds me of him the most.

11. Lucky ManEmerson, Lake and Palmer
Never grew to really like ELP, but Lucky Man was one of dad’s favourites.

12. When You’re a Free ManThe Moody Blues
The Moody Blues are even more central to my childhood than Genesis or the Floyd, and they’re another band my parents took me to see live at an age and in an era where it wasn’t commonplace to see kids at a rock concert. Dad had all their albums, and they’re probably the first band I bonded with and would put on one of their albums on my own when I was barely 5 or 6. Gotta love dad for that: he purposefully placed the turntable at a height where I could use it on my own if I wanted to. . . How wonderfully thoughtful is that?

13. Lay, Lady, LayBob Dylan
Same as ELP, I never became a Dylan fan, but dad loved this song and I quite enjoy it also.

14. You’re So VainCarly Simon
My parents had me very young, and they were, to a certain extent, what could be called hippies. As a result, it comes as no surprise that when I was merely 4, they decided to hitchhike across the country to Vancouver and back. This Carly Simon classic with Mick Jagger on backing vocals is, in my memories of that trip, the soundtrack to that adventure that took us many months to complete.

15. Summer BreezeSeals & Crofts
Frankly nothing much to say about this one except that dad liked it a lot.

16. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)The Rolling Stones
Dad was a much bigger Stones fan than he was a Beatles fan, and their 1973 album Goats Head Soup was one of his favourites of theirs. I love the NYC-feel of this track that he really loved.

17. Let’s Spend the Night TogetherDavid Bowie
There had to be at least one Bowie song on this mix, although he wasn’t one of the artists that played the most at home. The one album that was a mainstay in dad’s record collection, however, was Aladdin Sane, so what better segue way than his version of the Stones’ classic, which we both considered much better than the original.

18. ShadowplayJoy Division
Here we go with the 80’s segment made of bands that were central to that decade and to our life together in our legendary downtown Québec City apartment. This homage commanded Joy Division, and Shawdowplay is definitely one of our favourites, and it is one of my all-time favourite guitar solos; Barney is underestimated as a guitar player.

19. Over the WallEcho & the Bunnymen
Hugues was a huge E&tB fan, much more than me, even though I do love them. Over the Wall, from their 1981 album Heaven Up Here—a reference to the point of this homage—was one of his favouritest of the band, and definitely his favourite album of the band.

20. Dear PrudenceSiouxsie & The Banshees
Had to have a Beatles song on here, but this version is the one we shared the most. We had a radio show for a few seasons on Québec City’s CKRL community radio station in the 80s, and during one of these seasons, we put on a show that was called Like Father, Like Son where we’d play an original song followed by all it’s cover versions we could think of or find. This was obviously one of those.

21. Gimme ShelterThe Sisters of Mercy
Here’s another cover for you, and again, for all his love of the Stones, Hugues thought this version was way better than the original. All I can say is: how fucking cool is it to have a dad that loves The Sisters of Mercy when you’re a teenager into that kind of music. . .

22. King Is White and in the CrowdSimple Minds
I’ve mentioned New Gold Dream before, and dad loved this one, too.

23. Love SongSimple Minds
This definitely was dad’s favourite Simple Minds song, and seeing him dance to it in clubs was a sight to behold; since he had taken up ballet up to a semi-pro level, he moved and danced like no one else on a dancefloor!

24. Midnight ManFlash and the Pan
No idea how he discovered Flash and the Pan, but he really enjoyed what little material of his/theirs we could put our hands on at the time. I only recently discovered that it was in fact one of Australia’s Young brothers, the other siblings being members of AC/DC. . .

25. Julia’s SongOrchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Dad’s favouritest OMD song.

26. I Die: You DieGary Numan
Dad loved Numan, but mostly his Telekon album, and this classic from that album. I dug deeper in his discography and there are tracks that I like better than this one, but it’s still a track I love, and I have very vivid images of my dad and I enjoying it very loud while preparing dinner or whatever. . .

27. My New CareerJapan
Gentlemen Take Polaroids had such an impact on me as a young man, musically and aesthetically. I tried looking like David Sylvian on the album’s cover even to go to school, I adored their music, becoming quite a completist of their discography and even the band member’s solo efforts. I am very thankful for dad to have introduced me to their music, as I am for all the music he introduced me to.

28. Friday Night, Saturday MorningThe Specials
I think dad never quite understood my love of The Specials, which he enjoyed, but wasn’t necessarily a fan of. I chose this track because I bought this 12” the first time I visited him in Toronto.

29. PoptonesPublic Image Limited
Dad and I weren’t fans of P.I.L. except for the Paris au Printemps live album, which we positively adored, and incidentally was released as being by Image Publique, S.A. This is our favourite, especially because of the talking at the beginning of the track, which I have not included here, where Lydon says to the audience, “I’ll walk off this fucking stage if you keep spitting on me, dogs!”, which inspired the album’s cover.

30. Doubts Even HereNew Order
Of course, New Order had to be included on here; dad loved them, and Movement was definitely his favourite. Any songs off that album could have been used here, but I chose this one.

31. We Have Come to Bless this HouseSevered Heads
The first time I was in a club was at Québec City’s legendary Shoeclack, I was 13 and it was my dad who took me there. That time was the first time I heard the Heads’ Dead Eyes Opened, which is still to this day one of my favourite tracks. Dad thought Severed Heads were intriguing and liked their experimental side. He positively loved this song from their 1985 album City Slab Horror.

32. Golden BrownThe Stranglers
Another band dad made me discover through the mixtapes he would send from Toronto. When I told my mom that I wanted her to hear something he had sent and told her the band was called The Stranglers, she was kind of worried, but when she heard this nearly classical music, she was really confused. . .

33. DecadesJoy Division
There had to be more than one JD song on this tribute, and ever since I first heard this album back in the days, I’ve said I wanted this one to play at my funeral, which is why I’ve included it here.

34. Cold SongKlaus Nomi
Nomi. Dad loved him. This song seemed befitting.

35. The Great Gig in the SkyPink Floyd
Much Floyd rocked my childhood. This song, again, was quite unavoidably required on a musical homage to Hugues.

36. Concierto De Arajuez (Adagio)Miles Davis
Dad loved Miles and transmitted that love to me very early on and to this day; I even got a tattoo of Miles’ iconic “logo” of him playing the trumpet. I didn’t want to be too obvious in my choice of Miles’ song to include on this homage, and remembered that Hugues really loved Aranjuez very much, and Sketches of Spain is an album I, a lot of people, often overlook from his Gil Evans era.

37. On Earth as It Is in HeavenEnnio Morricone
Although it’s not evident in this homage, Hugues loved classical music, especially Bach. This Morricone soundtrack is hands down and by far the CD that played the most in our apartment; I had no choice whatsoever to include one of its tracks on this homage.

38. Stay—Hans Zimmer
He probably never heard this piece as I don’t think he saw the movie Interstellar. Even though I told him I had made this mix for him, he didn’t want to hear it. He didn’t wish to hear any music in the last weeks of his earthly life. I do understand why, too. I believe he started detaching himself emotionally in preparing for his departure, and hearing music and reliving memories would’ve made things harder in regard to his decision to opt for doctor assisted death. I could never resent him for not wanting to hear it, but there is a bit of regret, though. This emotionally powerful piece, which is made even more powerful by its title, seemed like the perfect coda to this homage to my beloved dad. If you’ve made it this far into this homage, you understand.

 

Following is the translation of a text I wrote a few days before dad’s death, on the night we learned when the appointment was for his DAD (doctor-assisted death, ironic, isn’t it?), and amended a little after coming home from said procedure.

-=-=-=-=-=-

When You Dad Dies

When your dad dies, when you know it’s coming, things take on a different flavour, a different perspective.

Your dog gets on your nerves, but then you realize that right now, your dad would probably love for your annoying dog to be lying by his side, breathing calmly and warming him up.

Then again, your dad is constantly in a feverish state because his body is locked into a 24/7 battle with the invader, a thing you realized on your penultimate visit: you sat next to him in bed and after a few minutes, you said “Wow! You’re so warm…” and he explained why. . .

You do the dishes, cuz you have to. But when your dad’s dying, you feel stupid to be doing dishes while your dad’s dying.

But then you realize that while your dad is dying and you feel it’s stupid to do the dishes, he would surely prefer to be doing the dishes rather than be dying, even if your annoying dog keeps pestering him for food.

When the person who gave you your most beautiful—and some of the worse—memories of your life is fading away, it’s hard not to feel like those memories are fading away with him.

But that’s Life.

Your knee-jerk reaction is to tell life to go fuck itself.

But that’s stupid.

By the age of 7, usually, you understand that Life is also its End. You don’t understand everything it implies, but you understand that it will end someday, and that makes your head spin. . .

Telling Life to go fuck itself is normal, as a knee-jerk reaction, but it’s still stupid. Your job, at that point, is to be mature about it and to integrate this finality.

Besides, Life has weird ways of telling you things.

Take the other night. . .

We were wondering what to watch, and we’ve basically watched everything: even Netflix doesn’t have much we haven’t seen yet.

So I said, “Let’s see what’s new on the Frontline web site.”

The latest episode, I kid you not, was a report called “Being Mortal” on how doctors deal with the topic of their cancer patients’ death. You can’t make that stuff up, and I suggest you watch it, too. It’s a very good report.

People keep saying cancer is a bitch, as a matter of fact, as if it was more “avoidable” than another disease. I get that it’s a commonly accepted stance, but I find it a little cliché.

Cancer is not crueler or regrettable—or avoidable, for that matter—than cirrhosis or gangrene, all things being equal.

When you are dying of something incurable, the cause really doesn’t fucking matter, in the end.

When your dad is dying, you don’t like saying “you fucking moron, if only you hadn’t smoked your whole life”, because you’ve smoked most of your life, too. . .

Besides, the cause really doesn’t fucking matter anymore.

You tell yourself, at least if you’re like me, “I guess that in the end, life is nothing more than weighing the odds”, and you’ve known for a good while now that the odds aren’t in your favour, one way or another. . .

When your dad is dying and you two are barely 20 years apart in age, it shoves your face in the shit pile of your own mortality, especially since you still smoke.

And when your face is shoved in the shit pile of your own mortality, you seriously question yourself.

Oh! I could tell you the story of my life and all the decisions, good or bad, depending on the perspective, but it wouldn’t matter.

Your dad criticized many of your decisions, but he’s—almost—always been there.

He had warned me early on that he had his limits, and I don’t mean the limits of his own mortality, but limits beyond which he would no longer be there simply because my decision was too stupid.

My dad taught me, more or less directly, and mostly by example—the best form of education, is you ask me—to be Myself.

One of the nicest compliment I ever got—and not always as a compliment or by people who liked me—was that I am someone with integrity, someone who always tells it like it is, who never bullshits.

He never accepted—nor gave—any bullshit. He had to make extremely difficult choices in his life and, in the end, he opted for a doctor-assisted death, and the sooner, the better.

“It’s civilized,” he would say, and he was absolutely right. We will realize and accept it as such the more this approach to end-of-life is integrated in our society and its customs.

After spending the last months of his life by his side, as often as I could in person, I learned, no, relearned, many lessons from him.

He’s the one who imparted this sense of integrity on me, integrity being the thing that teaches you not to let people have the better of you just to feed their “insecurity monster”.

Because I’ll tell you this from personal experience: 9 times out of 10, people who don’t like you feel that you’re a menace or a threat to them while in actual fact, you’re just there as is, take it or leave it.

But what scares them, really, is the fact that you fully accept the “or leave it” part of that statement.

But nonetheless, when your dad is dying, you wonder: “Am I as good a dad as he was?”

My dad was not perfect, but he was perfect for me.

He taught me so much, and we shared so many wonderful moments, and music was at the heart of a vast majority of them.

He didn’t say everything, and I’ve often felt he was wrong for not saying everything.

But when your dad is dying, you try really hard to put yourself in his shoes.

And you succeed.

That doesn’t mean you understand everything. You can’t be your dad, even though he’s dying.

Besides, he wouldn’t want you to die, not just yet, because there’s nothing worse than seeing your own child die.

But nonetheless, when your dad dies, you can’t help but to want to go with him.

Except you won’t, because you’ve realized that that’s the point of having children and being someone creative — something your dad has taught you pretty much since you were born:

That’s how you become immortal and contribute to Life.

You leave your mark, and even though your dad is dead, you realize how much he left his mark on the world, and that it’s your duty to do the same and carry the torch. . .

But for fuck’s sake, even though you loved your dad so much that you’ve been preparing yourself for so long—not since the age of 7, surely, but at least since your teens—to the idea that he’s not eternal and will one day be gone, even if you had an actual appointment to accompany him on his last journey and that he made jokes and was being his verbose self to the very last second of his existence—what a man! —, despite all that and all the wonderful things he contributed to the life of so many people. . .

There’s just no words.

Yet, he would probably have found at least a thousand!

I love you Hugues.

There are only two words that are appropriate and say it all:

Thank You

 

 

Monsieur Seb’s Best of the Years Two Thousand

So… 2009 came and went, as did the first decade of a new century and millenium, and what did we learn from it? Depends on how old you are I guess… I am closing my 4th decade (please calculate carefully, that makes me 40, not 50!) and some would probably love to say I have learned fuck nothing… Well, to quote Bran Van 3000, I have learned fuck all!

Must’ve been the pressure from all those blogs and other sources of information I read daily, but I suddenly got the urge to post my favourite music of the last decade. A list of my favourite from 2009 has been posted a few days ago. I didn’t restrain myself to a certain number, it just so happens that I ended up with 32.

All I can tell you is that as this decade comes to an end, with the many life changes that are accompanying it into the past, these are the albums or songs or artists that come to mind instantly, or almost so, as I reflect upon the music that has shaped who I’ve become in the past 10 years…

MONSIEUR SEB’S BEST OF 2000s

in alphabetical order

Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
I’ve often said, throughout the 2000s that rock would only achieve some form of renewal by breaking its structure rather than exploring sonorities, and that’s what the Monkeys have not done! Their structure is pretty classic ans their sound even more so, but still, when I first heard them, I truly had the impression of a majestic wave of freshness. Maybe it’s Alex Turner’s plume, which reminds me — in some strange way I can’t really explain — of Donald Fagen’s, but there’s something about the Monkeys that’s unique. And I’m not even talking about their stage presence and performance skills… The video below is a B-side from a single off their first album, and one of my favourite tracks of theirs.

 


 
Beat Pharmacy/The Echologist/Brendon Moeller
No one does trippy dubbed out techno and deep house like Brendon does: NO ONE! This South African born gentleman (and I know he is, it’s not just a figure of speech) now residing in New York (and who is A&R for François K’s Wave Music) has dominated the 2000s, as far as I’m concerned, when it come to hybridizing the aesthetics of dub to those of electronica. PERIOD.

 


 
Bent
Bent? Barely even really know them, but heck! what I know of them has consistently blown my mind. Their main hits have moved me WAY too much for me to leave them out of my favourite tracks from the past 10 years. They’re just one step up from a one hit wonder, but that doesn’t mean their music has less quality!

 


 
Bran Van 3000
James Di Salvio is, to me, one of the greats of this early 21st century. The man is no great composer, but he is a truly GREAT music lover who doesn’t just sample tracks, he pays them hommage. OK, two thirds of his albums have been released in the 2000s and they’ve all been received in a rather ambiguous way, but I’m one fan fini, and you don’t know what a Bran Van party is untul you’ve seen them live.

 


 
Brian Eno – Another Day on Earth
Well, of course Brian Eno is a music God, among other things, but this album is a little gem that everyone should get acquainted with, if only because he does have a great singing voice!

 


 
Burial – Untrue
When Burial’s second album came out, I had been aware of Dubstep for a while, but that genre had yet to impress me. But when I first listened to Untrue, my jaw dropped to the floor. I was listening to a genre-defining album, much like Massive Attack’s Blue Lines 15 years before or Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express before that, to name just those two. It will become a timeless classic, I can tell you that much.

 


 
Donald Fagen – Morph the Cat
People who know me know that Steely Dan and Donald Fagen have made and are still making some of my favouritest music, and a new solo album by Fagen is a cause for rejoicing in and of itself, and Morph was even more so, with some of his best songwriting yet.

 


 
Doves
Ah! The Doves. No doubt one of my favouritest British rock bands. They have yet to disappoint me, and what’s more, they seem to be getting consistently better after four albums. Their classic tracks are such monuments of beauty… I’ll just let them do the talking…

 


 


 


 


 


 


 
Gonzales – Solo Piano
Jason Charles Beck, originally from Montreal (unless I’m mistaken) is one of those true artists who can do just about anything, and well. He’s done electro, hip hop, and even classical music on his Solo Piano album. That record sees him channeling the spirit of every great composer for the piano from Debussy to Keith Jarrett. The CD is an absolute must, but if you get the chance to catch him in concert, don’t miss it, because to top it all off, he is an amazing performer!

 


 
Gorillaz vs. Spacemonkeyz – Laika Come Home
Little heard of before or since, the Spacemonkeyz had the idea of remixing the entire Gorillaz first album à la Dub, and thus was born Laika Come Home, my favourite Gorillaz album. No, really, I think this one is the best of the lot even though it’s not entirely a Gorillaz album. If you like Dub, this album is really worth the fistful of peanuts it’ll cost ya.

 


 
Jesse Somfay – A Catch in the Voice
Like I said in my best of 2009, this human being has the uncommon talent to create beauty, but with his 2009 album A Catch in the Voice released on Pheek’s Archipel imprint, what he created is beyond words. Strictly speaking it is “electronic” music, but incredibly organic at the same time. In any case, like I just said, trying to affix words to his creations is quite futile. Just let the waves wash over you…

 


 
Jesse Somfay – Fricative White (From a whisper to a scream)
All I can add to what I said about the previous entry is that this work of art is one of my favourite tracks of all time. Period. The video below is an edited version, but I URGE you to get the complete 27 minutes version (there’s a free legal download link to the complete version @192 kbps). One day you’ll thank me (but thank Jesse, he’s the one that deserves it).

 


 
Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around
I picked this one because it’s the one that introduced me to Rick Rubin’s American series with Cash, but I might as well have picked any of them as they all contained blindingly eloquent examples of Cash’s talent as an interpreter. When he sings someone else’s song, it instantly becomes his. Many artists that were covered by Cash in the American series have said they felt they could no longer sing their song after hearing Cash sing it… The day he died was a sad day for the world, but a happy one for him, since I was finally reunited with his life’s true love, June Carter. RIP, Man in Black.

 


 
Jose Gonzales
It took a Swede of Argentinian origins to reconcile me with Folk music. I first heard this Gonzales as a guest singer on a Zero 7 album (see below, they are also part of my best of the 2000s) where he sang on their version of his song Crosses, and I was immediately under the spell of his voice, so I decided to explore and discovered a wonderful album, Veneer, which was followed by an equally wonderful second album, In Our Nature.

 


 
Kings of Convenience
It took a pair of Norwegian to reconcile me with Folk music… Although in their case, I’d say they (Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe) are not as clearly folksy as Gonzales (see above), with strong jazz and even bossa inflections in their music. In both cases, nonetheless, it is their voices that first drew me to their music.

 


 
LCD Soundsystem
Talk about zeitgeist: one can almost smell New York when listening to a LCD track, but one can also hear, condensed in a few sharp words, the whole youth underground culture of the 2000s and its intense hybridization (re. Losing my Edge). Is James Murphy God? Nah! But he sure is one of the best artists of the 2000s, definitely. I would’ve loved to include the cover of Carl Craig (as Paperclip People)’s Throw that LCD do live, but the only clip I found was too short and sounded bad. Regardless: to me, the very idea of covering such a dancefloor track with a live band says it all about Murphy et al.

 


 
Lindstrøm
Yeah… Saying I love Lindstrøm has become cliché by now, as people who know me well will readily tell you. Still, this man has singlehandedly led a whole movement for the past five years or more (depending on where you place the beginning) and keeps banging out incredible tracks, like his recent 42 minutes version of the Christmas classic Little Drummer Boy or Baby Can’t Stop, from his upcoming album with vocalist Christabelle which sees him going in a disco-funk direction à la M.J. circa Off the Wall! Boogie on!

 


 
Luomo – Vocalcity
I picked Vocalcity because it was SO important to me when it came out, but especially the track Tessio, which gave me back hope that true House wasn’t on its way out, as it seemed to me back then (in 2000). If you hold any pretention of loving electronic music, your record collection simply isn’t complete without Vocalcity, and with the shortest track clocking in at 9:56, you can rest assured you’re getting your money’s worth with this one!

 


 
mala72Malajube – Labyrinthes
If you’re from outside North America, chances are slim you’ve heard of these guys, unless you ear is firmly pressed on the indie-rock railroad track. I wasn’t a fan of theirs before this third album. As a matter of fact, I barely knew more than their name and didn’t try to learn more, as I tend to shy away from bands that are too hyped, as was the case when their second album came out. However, when I received Labyrinthes in the mail last February, I thought I’d give them a real listen, and they blew me away. Definitely in my top 3 best albums of 2009 and top 5 of the 2000s. Indie-rock, yes, but with Prog flourishes that don’t need to blush in the presence of their elder statemen, Labyrinthes is an album borne out of personal hardship and, as most such albums, it radiates an intense light. And I did listen back to their earlier stuff: doesn’t measure up to this. Here’s a link to download the excellent opening track Ursuline.

 

 
Martin Léon
Here’s another Québec artist who you probable never heard of if you live outside this province. I even feel strange writing about him in English! But what Martin Léon does different from most other Québec artists is write stuf that’s beyond the usual pop love song drivel. He is a true composer (who has studied with Ennio Morricone) and a great writer, and his ear is atuned to what’s going on in the world. The result are amazingly unique little gems. He’s only got two albums (more if you include his stint with the band Ann Victor), but they are priceless, with a little favoritism on my part for his first, Kiki BBQ.

 


 


 
Miguel Graça
Initially, I was only going to include Mig’s first full length, Miguel Graça presents Soulnotmind: Shining Stars, but then, while researching for links and stuff, I realized that his other albums released during the 2000s had as much impact on me as that first one, although it does hold a special place in my mind and heart. Quite difficult to find stuff to link to, but here’s one taken off his second album, Monkey Mass, and co-produced with my buddy Fred Everything.

 


 
Mocky
Dominic Salole is an artist who’s part of of the incredibly talented gang sometimes referred to as the “Canadian Crew” that includes Gonzales, Feist, Peaches and Taylor Savvy. Mocky is a multi-instrumentalist with an uncanny talent for great productions and even greater melodies; he’s often involved in the album production of his fellow Canadian Crew members. On his own, he’s released four albums in the 2000’s, with the latest, Saskamodie, almost being a pure jazz album. The whole Canadian Crew is worth discovering, but my suggestion is that you begin by Mocky’s productions (and save Feist for last, since y’all probably know her anyways).

 

 

Moloko – Statues / Forever More (FKEK Remix)
I would’ve included the whole Moloko catalog if I could, but Statues is their only album which came out in the 2000s (oops, not true: Things to Make and Do came out in late 2000) and, sadly, t was to be their last album, too (so far). In a way, although it is sad, it is also a good thing because Moloko can only be Mark Brydon and Róisín Murphy, and the proof is in the pudding: what dear Róisín has done since is OK, at best. However, to cite Wikipedia: “While both currently pursue projects outside of Moloko and state that there are no plans for Moloko at the moment, Murphy has been keen to stress that the group are not necessarily defunct and that she has no interest in ‘burying’ the project.” So, there. I’ve put emphasis on the François Kevorkian and Eric Kupper remix of Forever More because, well… It is one of their best productions, simple as that!

 


 
New Order – Get Ready
I’ve always been a great fan of N.O. and I can’t tell you how elated I was when rumours of a new album started floating around in 2000. I think a lot of people were surprised, at first, at how much more rock-sounding Get Ready was compared to what Barney & Co. had done before, especially Republic, which had preceded it 10 years before. Well, not I. I embraced this new hard sounding sound which perfectly suits Hooky’s bass and Barney’s voice. In any case, it also contains one of their best songs, Run Wild. I did enjoy Waiting for the Siren’s Call, but nowhere near as much as Get Ready.

 


 
Quantic/Quantic Soul Orchestra
Wow! Here’s one guy who really blew my mind during the 2000s (although I’ve been a bit less into his productions of late). Will Holland is a rare musical genius who can play almost everything and compose in almost any style. As a matter of fact I’m certain he can compose any style of music, I just haven’t heard him do so. He’s known as The Quantic Soul Orchestra, The Limp Twins, Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro and other monikers, he works alone or with a full orchestra and everything he touches becomes groovy. Y’all should really hook up with Will, trust me!

 


 


 
Social System – Autumn > Spring
Dearest Pheek, a true visionnary and a dedicated man. I have immense respect for him as a person and as an artist, but also as a label manager: he has great flair for discovering and nurturing fresh talent. This album is a collaboration between Jean-Patrice and Jason Corder. Now, Pheek’s releases are amazing little gems, and Jason can hold his own, too, but together, they created something that’s greater than the sum of its parts, and Autumn > Spring is an aboslute must in any record collection. JP, I couldn’t find any other source, so I’m embedding a track off your album instead of a YouTube clip. It is protected even in the source code, so in principle it is impossible to download and besides I’ve encoded it @ 128kbps. If you want me to remove it, let me know.

 
Social System – Milk Clouded (Archipel, 2006)

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Stars of the Lid – And Their Refinement of the Decline
I really honestly don’t know what to say about SotL and this album in particular. They compose and play what has become my favourite ambient music. I don’t feel I need to add anything else…

 



 
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Much like Luomo gave me back hope that House was not dying, the Flaming Lips gave me hope that rock was still able to offer something creative. Wayne Coyne et al. have been at it for almost thirty years already, and they show no sign of slowing down or losing their edge, and if only for that, they deserve their presence on this list. And once you listen to their integral cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, you’ll either love them for life or hate them forever.

 


 


 
Trentemøller – The Last Resort
Much maligned after his immense and relatively rapid rise to fame, Trentemøller still deserves his spot on my list of the best of the 2000s. The Last Resort, whether they care to admit it or not, blew everyone’s mind by (to my ears, anyways) bridging the gap between minimal techno and more melodic House. Now, let’s just wait and see if he’ll top himself. So far it’s been over 3 years since he’s done anything worthwhile…

 


 
Underworld
They’ve only released two albums in the 2000s, but I’d be hard-pressed to say which is best. No matter that, Underworld have been one of my favourite electronic bands since the day I first heard dubnoheadwithmybassman in 1994, so even if their latest releases had been total crap, I’d still have included them on my list!

 


 
Zero 7
Ah! my darlings Zero 7! Hardaker and Binns (whose name even sounds like a cool menswear line or pocket knife brand) have never produced anything I didn’t totally fall in love with, even their latest album, Yeah Ghost, which has left many a fan perplexed. Their music is always soothing and uplifting, even though it knows how to be a bit sad, at times. One of my fantasies: drivng along the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible while listening to the track below…

 


 

Also rans

Wish I could’ve included The Art of Noise’s The Seduction of Claude Debussy, but it officially came out in 1999, even though I discovered it in 2000. Same goes for Electronic’s Twisted Tenderness. I would also have included Oasis’ Dig Out Your Soul and The Verve’s Forth in the best of 2009, but they came out in 2008 and weren’t so good as to make the cut for the best of the 2000’s, although they are both kick-ass albums IMHO. I wish I could’ve included my friend Jean-Pierre reissues of Handful of Snowdrops and Spaceful of Astronauts, but reissues don’t count in my book — which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rush to discover what I’m talking about if you don’t already know.