Posts Tagged ‘song-writing’

I have to admit, I love a good duet.  True, they are generally sweeter than a nanaimo bar a la mode and do tend to walk a fine line between being sentimental and trite.  But I can’t help it.  I’m a sucker when it comes to a romantic collaboration between a male and female singer.  I believe it dates back to the 70’s, watching Sonny and Cher close their show each week with I Got You Babe.

Over the years, there have been many classic duets which were big hit songs; some are powerful and moving like Crying by Roy Orbison and kd lang, some are corny and fun like Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee and some are cool and uninhibited like Jackson by Johnny Cash and June Carter.

In the last 20 years or so, other than R&B and Hip-Hop (which has it’s own form of duet between rapper and singer), movie soundtrack duets and Disney songs, and duet albums of standards by ex-rockers, there really hasn’t been many notable duet songs in the traditional sense – man and woman singing to each other, face to face.  Good duets are still being made, but few and far between and often difficult to find for the singles downloading public.  Here are a few of my favourites:

Move Me To Tears category: Don’t Give Up by Willie Nelson & Sinead O’Connor (original by P. Gabriel and K. Bush)

Caramel Corn category: Modern Nature by Sondre Lerche & Sylvie Lewis

Lustful Cool category: I Dig You by Jon Spencer & Cristina Martinez (aka Boss Hog)

I now have a new favourite which, like an old favourite Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues & Kirsty McColl, can be categorized as all of the above.  The duet in question is Home by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and it’s from their 2009 debut CD Up From Below.

…by Sandy Gritt



I can remember back in the day when “Cat” was a bit of a trend in band names.  Then, for a brief period the favoured pet band names seemed to contain “Dog”, then of course there were the “Jesus” names but more recently I am noticing “Whale” as the latest flavour.  And why not?  Whales are big and important and breathe air just like we do.  One of such bands is New York’s Freelance Whales.  Their debut album, Weathervanes,  from 2009 is a dreamy collection of lush chamber pop complete with organic details which include banjo, mandolin, harmonium and of course a healthy dose of glockenspiel. With five members who are all instrument collectors and all sing, Freelance Whales offer a live sound that is layered with many colours without ever getting muddy and their song writing is full of emotion and playfulness without ever getting mushy.

…by Sandy Gritt

Even though I bought Tom Wait’s latest offering (the deluxe addition at that) the day of it’s release, it has taken me a while to write this review.  I figure if you’re a Waits fan then you already have it and know how masterful it is.  Plus I admit to being a little bias.  So this is directed at the non-Tom Waits fans.

Tom Waits has been writing great songs and producing innovative albums for decades.  He’s one of the best live performers I have ever seen. His creativity knows no boundaries and he’s one of very few recording artists, now in his sixties, who is actually improving with age.  He’s the kind of artist who has no polish in his tool box but has a bigger hammer than you, grittier sandpaper and touch of glitter amongst the dust and bone.  With most songs on Bad As Me clocking in at under four minutes, this collection is a concise display of Waits’ strengths of past recordings with timeless appeal constructed by the adventurous soul of a man who doesn’t use a safety net.

…by Sandy Gritt


Dojo Workhorse is a side project of Danny Vacon of Calgary’s the Dudes. While the Dudes get their point across with frat boy aggression, precision distortion and catchy indie melodies, Vacon is willing to turn himself inside out and show us a softer more delicate side with Dojo Workhorse. Dojo Workhorse’s 2009 release “Weapons Grade Romantic” has captured an easy feeling organic soul sound that introduces a few more layers to Vacon’s song writing. With elements of chamber rock, pop harmonies and a cast of alternating members, Dojo Workhorse allows Danny Vacon to shine as a frontman and show off that soulful voice of his. The path Vacon is taking with this so-called side project will definitely have much wider lanes and a lot more turns than his main gig as one third of the Dudes. Well worth checking out.

…by Sandy Gritt

Another great Canadian band that I found via And I’m very glad I did. Regina’s Library Voices’ latest long play really ticks all the boxes fro me. It’s always exciting for me to hear a band for the first time and instantly be drawn to their music. It’s the one of the best things about being a fan of music and new music in particular. Released in August of 2011, this album is filled with danceable, sing-a-long Indie pop with smart lyrics. And they’re not afraid of some well placed hand claps either! Dynamic song writing, catchy grooves and the little details give this release a very cohesive sound that holds up through repeated listening. Definitely worth checking out. I can’t get enough of their single “Generation Handclap”.

…by Sandy Gritt

I just stumbled upon via youtube. This is an amazing site for anyone who enjoys watching up and coming bands and solo artists perform live, raw and intimate. Very well filmed and recorded, this Vancouver based production company is showcasing some incredibly diverse acoustic (mostly) songs by really cool bands shot in scenic Vancouver locations . My favourite, so far, is this performance by Ben Everyman.

There’s a lot of bands around that we all know that have a few great songs. There’s also some bands most of us know that have a lot of great songs. Then of course there are bands few of us know that have  a great song that no one’s heard. Well, Papas Fritas is a band I’ve known for a while but I don’t think a lot of people know of them, and it’s a shame because they have a lot of great songs. They’ve been together since 1994 but have only 4 long plays. They  toured in 2011 so they are obviously still active and they’ve appeared on Yo Gabba Gabba so they got quirky kid cred. I can’t believe they have gone relatively unnoticed. Anyway, check out their album “Pop Has Freed Us”. Get the name now? “Papa Fritas”. Here’s one of their ultra cool videos.

…by Sandy Gritt