Photo by: Matt Williams
Touring—and especially touring Canada—can be a long, lonely, desolate affair. Sure, you’ve got your best pals in the whole world in the van with you. But those best pals of yours quickly become your worst enemies after a bit too much greasy food, a bit too many miles, and a bit not enough showering. All the greatest rock bands know, though, and try to remember at all times, that rock ‘n’ roll is what holds them together. And Partner is one of the greatest bands.
Like a stoned bomber launched out of beautiful Sackville, New Brunswick, Partner has been dropping atomic guitar solos all over the place for the past little while. The fuel that’s been flying them has been copious amounts of killer tunes—and, I can only assume, similar amounts of killer jazz grass—so they’ve done us the favour of compiling 17 van highlights in a YouTube playlist to quench any thirst for righteous tracks you’ve been dealing with.
The write-ups come courtesy of rhythm guitar monster Lucy Niles, and six-string slayer Josée Caron, who shared thoughts Grimes, Rihanna, Metallica and Dolly Parton — and how they all work so damn well together on one playlist.
You can hear a couple Partner songs at their Bandcamp page. Other than that all they’ve got is a cassette via You’ve Changed Records only available at shows. But fear not—the band is planning to release their debut full-length sometime in the next year. And you’d be a fool not to hit up their gigs anyway. Partner provides the kind of barnstorming live rock ‘n’ roll experience worth skipping a good friend’s wedding for.
Catch Partner live on tour this month:
Sept 17 - Riot Fest 2016, Chicago, IL
Sept 22 - Divan Orange, Montreal, QC
Sept 24 - Elvis Guesthouse NYC, New York, NY
Sept 25 - The Plough and Stars, Boston, MA
- Avril Lavigne, “What The Hell”
By some grave injustice, we managed to remain tragically ignorant to the existence of this song until right before we went on tour. All's well that ends well, and it’s now one of our favourites. When you meet someone who loves "What The Hell," they really and truly love it. A carefree celebration and sex positive anthem with just a hint of wistfulness, it was written in collaboration with the legendary Max Martin. It hits you right in the reptilian part of your brain and if you think you don't like it, you’re only fooling yourself.
- No Doubt, “Don’t Let Me Down”
This song is produced by Ric Ocasek of The Cars, who also produced Weezer’s Blue Album. It has an uncanny similarity to many of the songs Josée produces on her phone. With an uplifting synthetic line, it’s every bit as catchy as anything on the Blue Album but with Gwen's titanic vocals anchoring everything. A great song to lift your spirits on the 401.
- Rihanna, “Needed Me”
Between tour dates, I spent a lot of time this summer temping in a factory in Windsor. My job was to screw a screw into a hole to make sure it went through. This song would often play five or six times a day on the radio while I was "screwing holes," and I never got sick of it. In fact each listen brought me closer to glimpsing the true breadth of its mastery. Rihanna just has the hottest tracks.
- Grimes, “REALiTi”
By some strange necessity we had both cars (Brendan's Subaru and Dan's Dodge Calibre) on tour for a bit. I was obsessed with riding in Dan's car because he had Art Angels on his phone. The synth hook feels like “Sandstorm” on ambien, which makes it perfect for winding down after a night of powerful rocking.
- Mitski, “Your Best American Girl”
A lot has been written about this perfect song, which comes from Mitski's stellar new album Puberty 2. In lieu of reiterating any of the excellent observations made by the pros, I’ll simply state this song makes us cry just like everyone else and Mitski must be on her fourth or fifth life, so wise and compassionate is she.
- Kenny Rogers, “Tulsa Turnaround”
This song appears on a country funk compilation that is in heavy rotation in the Subaru. Kenny Rogers loves women and getting high and hanging out with women when he gets high. This song contains the immortal truism, "If a man's gonna eat fried chicken, he's gonna get greasy." For some reason he refers to himself as "a funkybutt" and we love it.
- Dolly Parton, “Getting Happy”
This song also appears on the aforementioned country funk comp. Dolly is her usual charming self and the song has a simple and beautiful premise: She’s found a man who "helps [her] sing along" and she’s happier than she ever dreamed she could be. Good for you, Dolly.
- Shania Twain, “Honey I'm Home”
As everyone knows, Shania is a national treasure. She has always been very special to us since the genesis of our friendship. In this classic jam she explores the idea that companionship and relaxation can provide a person with meaningful and necessary respite from a life ruled by capitalism. Who can't relate to that?
- Metallica, “Frantic”
A harsh 180 from Shaniah, this song is nevertheless very special to us. If you've never seen Some Kind of Monster, do yourself the favour. The film will give you intimate insight into how this bizarre and counterintuitive song came to be. It’s a masterpiece and our collective favourite movie.
- KISS, “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You”
This summer we played NXNE in Toronto on a Thursday and MoSofest in Saskatoon on a Saturday (we love you, Saskatoon). In between, we drove. When the sun was coming up in Northern Ontario and we were all starting to feel a little loopy, this song came on. When you’re not rocking out, sometimes you have to do things that aren't glamorous, like have a job. When it all starts to get you down, just throw on this song to remember what it's all about. Rock is a gift and a privilege.
- B.A. Johnson, “I Remember Skinny Jeans the First Time Around”
This song comes from one of our personal heroes and favourite people. It’s a standout track on the Polaris-longlisted, strangely sentimental Shit Sucks, and contains the line, "I am old and do not have to give a shit about the shit young people give a shit about," which rings truer every day.
- Dave Hunter, “Chill Pill”
This is one of our all time favourite songs, recorded by our bass player Kevin back in 2012. Dave is a Sackville local who used to own and operate Pickles Deli, where all our old bands once played. This song contains a great piece of sage wisdom that we wish we had come up with: "Feelin good ain't bad/feelin bad ain't good." It makes us feel good and that ain't bad.
- Paint, “She Leaves”
This song comes courtesy of the eclectic and fascinating Toronto band Paint. We became very interested in Paint after watching their documentary. This video follows a clever scam artist who uses the resources at her disposal to get ahead in a harsh world until she meets her demise at the hands of an inscrutable private eye.
- Barenaked Ladies, “This Is Me In Grade 9”
Apparently it’s a BNL tradition to record naked and this song sounds just how I imagine that feels. An upbeat and whimsical trip down memory lane.
- Marjo, “Provocante”
It was a magical night in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec when we first heard this song. After our performance at FME (an incredible festival and one of the most gracious and welcoming crowds we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing to), we trooped down to karaoke and watched a whole room of revellers sing along to this song. A moment of pure joy.
- Black Sabbath, “Sweet Leaf”
The most romantic song Ozzy has ever sung.
- Trampoline, “Astral Master”
This is one of our absolute favourite songs. We were made aware of Trampoline by some lovely volunteers at Real Love Summer Fest in Gimli, Manitoba. They advised us to check them out so later on, in the comfort of our room at the Red Dog Inn, we did just that. We were immediately moved by the masterful instrumentation, the stark vulnerability of the lyrics, and the cinematic quality of the arrangement. It’s evident from their music that Trampoline have a beautiful and special friendship that is a joy to witness.