about them transparent dangling carrots

posted at 3:16 pm by brandon in now hear this

A Canadian bubblegum pop star in her teens, and a misunderstood (and, to a large extent, mischaracterized) angry young female (and, at that, one who singlehandedly touched off a deafening revolution for women in rock) in her twenties, the tenaciously divine Alanis Morissette has mellowed markedly as she navigates her thirties, though that fact may not be immediately evident upon first listen to Flavors of Entanglement, Morissette’s texturally dense eighth studio album. Inspired by her brutal breakup with actor Ryan Reynolds, Entanglement finds its author being lured into intriguing new sonic territory by producer Guy Sigsworth (co-writer of Seal’s 1991 classic debut “Crazy,” and best known for his striking work with the lovably psychotic Imogen Heap), who grafts rougher-hewn guitars and touches of electronica onto Morissette’s typically untidy prose.


Entanglement‘s near-reckless sense of daring and experimentation feels like a natural extrapolation of So-Called Chaos, the 2004 album that was, in many ways, Morissette’s creative zenith (an opinion I’m sure many will argue with me over, but let me say for the record that Jagged Little Pill — Alanis’ Grammy-winning mid-’90s touchstone — has aged far better than anyone could reasonably have anticipated, and that quite many of Entanglement‘s tracks — notably the subtly scathing “Versions of Violence,” which plays like Pill‘s “All I Really Want” refracted from the dank underbelly of desire — echo back to that record’s accomplished ambition), and if this record is a signal of where Morissette is headed artistically, I for one am firmly onboard. (Incidentally, be sure you pick up the album’s deluxe edition, which comes bundled with a bonus 5-song EP of b-sides.)


We’ve yet to hear A’s final verdict on last week’s “ladies of Great Britain” playlist (although Sherry Ann’s unqualified rave filled my heart with soaring pride), but with Alanis being one of Canada’s favorite daughters (and one of its biggest success stories, natch), I couldn’t resist building a similar playlist featuring a cross-section of brilliant female talent from north of the border. Sherry Ann and I have always held the fierce conviction that all the really cool people hail from Canada, and I posit that the following collection of music will only serve to reinforce that notion.


1. “How Do You Stop?” — Joni Mitchell (from Turbulent Indigo) — Joni Mitchell - Turbulent Indigo - How Do You Stop — after foundering — the spectacular “Night Ride Home” notwithstanding — through much of the late ’80s and into the ’90s, this sweet 1994 collaboration with Seal won her a Grammy and put the world’s premier female singer-songwriter — the one against which all others are measured — firmly back on the map.

2. “Surrounded” — Chantal Kreviazuk (from Under These Rocks and Stones) — Chantal Kreviazuk - Under These Rocks and Stones - Surrounded — A, in a Cascada-fueled fit of infinite foolishness, rejected this heart-wrenching triumph, Kreviazuk’s searing debut single, when it appeared in a Tips playlist last summer. Let’s all urge him not to make that mistake again.

3. “Where Does My Heart Beat Now” — Celine Dion (from Unison) — Céline Dion - Unison - Where Does My Heart Beat Now — the 1991 smash that introduced the world to Dion’s big, booming, five ring circus of a voice. Listening to this, you’d never guess Celine was still learning English in the midst of these recording sessions.

4. “Good Enough” — Sarah McLachlan (from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy) — Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy - Good Enough — last week’s Buzz discussion of the latest McLachlan project only served to remind us all of her blistering talent, not to mention of how richer and fuller our lives are for her mere presence. Neither unrequited love nor the word “bullshit” ever sounded this impossibly sexy.

5. “…On the Radio (Remember the Days)” — Nelly Furtado (from Whoa, Nelly!) — Nelly Furtado - Whoa, Nelly! - Shit On the Radio (Remember the Days) — it’s a minor miracle that the endlessly inventive Furtado managed to wrangle this tune’s scattershot and madcap freneticism into a contoured (and wholly enjoyable) listening experience. A marvel, for all the right reasons.

6. “You Don’t Know Me” — Jann Arden (from Greatest Hurts: The Best of Jann Arden) — Jann Arden - Greatest Hurts: The Best of Jann Arden - You Don't Know Me — one of the American songbook’s true classics, this Eddy Arnold masterpiece has been recorded no fewer than two hundred times (and for roughly that many musical genres). But Sherry Ann will no doubt tell you this version — performed by a brilliant, terribly underappreciated woman whose voice seems to comprehend and decipher the language of loneliness more fluently than any other of her generation’s — is the hands-down best. And I might just have to agree with her.

7. “When” — Shania Twain (from Come On Over) — Shania Twain - Come On Over (International Version) - When — yes, Ms. Twain and her goofy shtick often give me a migraine, but this wistful slice of slick, winsome pop is an undeniable winner.

8. “Basement Apartment (Every Time I Breathe)” — Sarah Harmer (from You Were Here) — Sarah Harmer - You Were Here - Basement Apt. — the only reason this sensational track didn’t make Harmer an instant superstar is that, to reiterate, the folks who program this crunchy’s radio dials are ignorant. fucking. dumbasses.

9. “Fall From Grace” — Amanda Marshall (from Amanda Marshall) — Amanda Marshall - Amanda Marshall - Fall from Grace — umm, ditto.

10. “1 2 3 4” — Feist (from The Reminder) — Feist - The Reminder - 1234“co-zee and cold / put the horse before the cart….” Only time will tell if she’ll end up being this year’s Norah Jones or this year’s Christopher Cross, but her breakthrough single is a light-as-air romp.



3 responses to “about them transparent dangling carrots”

  1. the buzz from Sherry Ann:

    Yet another brilliant playlist B! Although I think that you missed a prime opportunity to introduce A to Deborah Cox. You are her biggest fan. You also missed the brilliant Diana Krall and Tara MacLean. (Remember that fight that we got in over who got to buy that Tara MacLean cd! I believe I won that one!) My most recent favorite Canadian is a singer that goes by the name Lights. She has two great songs called “The Last Thing on Your Mind” and “February Air” that were featured in last year’s Old Navy ad campaigns.

  2. the buzz from brandon:

    Yes, yes, yes, and also k.d. lang and Margo Timmins and Anne Murray and Kathleen Edwards and Loreena McKennitt (who I actually swapped for Kreviazuk at the last second)! You gotta draw the line somewhere! But fear not: Deborah Cox is imminent. 🙂

  3. the buzz from A.:

    Here are my picks from this playlist:

    Chantal Kreviazuk’s “Surrounded”– When did I reject this song? I own it, as well as quite a few others by Ms. Kreviazuk! Indeed, Ms. Kreviazuk is probably my favorite Canadian singer!

    Celine Dion’s “Where Does My Heart Beat Now” – This one definitely deserves a nod. It’s Celine!

    Shania Twain’s “When” – I never thought I’d own a Shania Twain song, but voilà, there’s a first time for everything.

    Others I found interesting:

    Nelly Furtado’s “…On the Radio (Remember the Days)” – What a strange song! Strange words, strange music, strange everything.

    Amanda Marshall’s “Fall From Grace” – Amanda Marshall is definitely worth investigating further.

    Feist’s “1 2 3 4” – This lovely, amusing piece reminds me of the much-adored-by-Brandon singer named Mika, whom I have been steadfastly refusing to add to my collection. However, that may change soon.