With festival season around the corner, we’re feeling those groovy summer vibes. Our latest curated playlist is filled with vintage tunes from the ’60s & ’70s and the best new wave psych-rock tracks of today. From Jefferson Airplane and The Doors to Dope Lemon and Temples, SPRING PSYCHEDELIA was made for your inner hippie.
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Canadian singer-songwriter Peter van Helvoort (formerly of Teenage Kicks) premieres the first of his solo work today on Stories Behind The Songs. Inspired by his childhood songwriting heroes Neil Young, Jim Croce and Cat Stevens, “Down On Me” is an intimate recording of a man documenting his time and the burden it places on its people. Rich in emotion and raw in its intensity, “Down On Me” is a fitting introduction to van Helvoort’s autobiographical songwriting style.
Peter van Helvoort shared the story behind “Down On Me” with Stories Behind The Songs:
“All of my music has always been very personal, perhaps to a fault, but I think this was probably the first song I wrote that kind of laid my faults out on the line in a way that wasn’t just about ME. The goal was to make an effort to show admiration for the person in my life who has to deal with the consequences of those faults. Throughout the song the response from my significant other is always the same, that person never comes down on me, their devotion never waivers.
I have a fairly significant back catalog of songs but I chose to release this song first because I think it really applies to the world we’re living in right now. We’ve been trained to live in fear, and this song tackles how I’ve personally dealt with that fear. When I really get sucked into a bad news day it makes me spiral and sometimes I can’t get out of that for days. This is the part that I hope can resonate with people, I understand the black holes that are depression and addiction. I’m my own worst enemy and it took admitting that I can’t face the darkness on my own to make it possible to have some good days.”
The birth of MTV in 1981 changed the game of the music industry. Suddenly the artist and their music could be launched simultaneously to a massive audience. The art form of the music video was born and the importance of image became even more powerful.
Nothing defined this new art form like Michael Jackson’s 1982 “Thriller” music video. Produced in partnership with MTV, the video set viewers’ expectations high with its technically advanced visual narrative, massive budget and Hollywood director.
By the time the ’90s came along, the music video, still a relatively new medium, was the most effective method of an artist’s exposure. Remember, this was a time before YouTube and instant access to music, videos and concert footage. The larger MTV’s audience got, the more crucial an artist’s video became. A single video could take an underground emerging genre to the masses; it could ignite fashion trends and inspire technological and design innovation; it could act as a political statement or a glimpse into another world; but most importantly, it could sell millions of records.
The ’90s was a decade filled with music videos that both challenged and delighted the viewer. Some pushed boundaries and were unlike anything we’d ever seen before while others acted as a snapshot of an era. Below is our list of 25 music videos that are iconic in their ability to capture the essence of ’90s pop culture.
Twin Solitude | Leif Vollebekk | Secret City Records
Released on February 24th through Secret City Records, Leif Vollebekk’s third album is the sound of an artist’s awakening. Twin Solitude was born out of a newly discovered songwriting method for Vollebekk: exploring spontaneous ideas and letting songs shape themselves. Mostly written in one sitting and recorded in one take, the songs that form Twin Solitude are the products of channelling and trusting the creative spirit.
Within the first bars of the opening track, the precious, transcendent connection between music and human emotion is ignited, stimulating the senses and suggesting a lifelong love affair between the listener and the album. Something deeply raw and genuine is being communicated in this record; a dark place made warm. It’s a record for empty spaces: both wide open air and softly lit rooms. The beautiful melancholy of Vollebekk’s piano and the raw poetic rhythm of his voice is soul-stirring. As much as Vollebekk’s voice is impossible to resist, the record is bigger than him. “By the time the last notes die away, all that’s left should be you,” Leif says. “And I’ll be somewhere else.”
Moments like these prove that music has power. In a time of global uncertainty and fear, this is the ultimate example of how music brings people together, spreads joy and unites us with a communal experience. Add 1,200 musicians playing simultaneously and it’s undeniable.
The group of 1,000 Italian musicians known as Rockin’ 1000 formed in 2015 in an effort to convince the Foo Fighters to play a show in their city of Cesena. After their united performance of “Learn to Fly”, the Foo Fighters played there in November of 2015.
This past July, “The Biggest Rock Band on Earth” (now boasting 1,200 members) came together to perform a concert of rock anthems by David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, The White Stripes, Nirvana, The Black Keys, AC/DC, The Beatles, Blur, Steppenwolf, The Verve and Patti Smith. Last week Rockin’ 1000 posted the video of their chill-inducing performance of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
With an egotistical, soul-crushing President sitting in the Oval Office, this beautiful example of people of all ages, genders, beliefs and identities performing together proves the infectious power of music and the strength that lies in united positivity.
Watch Rockin’ 1000 perform “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie:
Since the 2012 release of her self-titled album, Hannah Georgas has been one of our favourite indie artists. Her ability to sculpt enveloping atmospheres of sound that lift you into narrated musical dream worlds has grown only more powerful on her latest album. For Evelyn is a deeply personal and introspective album resulting in a mature and cohesive collection of songs. As Georgas reflects on the fear of losing her mother, the pain of her father’s death, her struggle to believe in herself, and her admiration for her grandmother (for whom the album is named after), her soft upper register delivers the lyrics of loss, self-doubt, fear and precious moments of joy with undoubted sincerity. Produced by Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck) and mixed by Nicolas Vernhes (The War on Drugs), For Evelyn is a foggy haze of a soundscape thick with warm horns, fuzzy synths and Georgas’s tender, distant vocals. Powered by Georgas’s emotionally charged vocals, her fearlessly honest lyrics and the beautiful craftsmanship of the album, For Evelyn was named one of SBTS‘s 10 Best Indie Albums of 2016.
Hannah Georgas recently shared with Stories Behind The Songs the story behind the creation of For Evelyn:
“In the fall of 2014 I started working on this album. At the time I was living in my apartment in Vancouver and had just finished my last album cycle. I made an effort to write as much as I possibly could for 6 months. I wrote a lot of songs during that span of time but 20 or so made the cut. In the spring of 2015 I moved to Toronto and began the recording process with my producer Graham Walsh. We worked on and off on the album up until the end of 2015. I went through a lot of transition during that whole process. I had been living on the West Coast for 12 years and decided it was time to head back east. I think this album reflects a lot of change and introspection that was going on in my life at the time.”
Now Hannah Georgas dives further into the album and shares the stories behind each song on For Evelyn with Stories Behind The Songs. Here is an inside look Behind The Album, Track by Track:
I had been working all day on an idea and I was feeling like it was kind of going nowhere. I took a little break from that path and started messing around with a saxophone preset on my keyboard. The lyrics just spewed out of me while I was playing this sax riff. The song was finished in under an hour I think. It’s always amazing when a moment like that happens in songwriting. It feels like it’s a little gift that has been given to you from an outside source.
Stephanie Horak founded Stories Behind The Songs in 2014. In addition to writing for her site, she is also a freelance music writer and has been published by Noisey|Music by VICE and Indie88. Stephanie is also a music photographer whose photographs have been displayed in Analogue Gallery, Toronto's home of iconic Rock & Roll photography.
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Dedicated to the stories behind the music. Made with in Toronto.