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John K. Samson - Little Pictures (Cover Artwork)

John K. Samson

John K. Samson: Little PicturesLittle Pictures (2006)
G7 Welcoming Committee Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: SloaneDaleySloaneDaley
(others by this writer | submit your own)

It doesn't need to be said but I'm going to say it any ways: John K. Samson is possibly one of the most important individuals in modern Canadian independent rock, being an alumnus of Propagandhi and current front-person of the Weakerthans, and consistently known for connecting the lines between pers.
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It doesn't need to be said but I'm going to say it any ways: John K. Samson is possibly one of the most important individuals in modern Canadian independent rock, being an alumnus of Propagandhi and current front-person of the Weakerthans, and consistently known for connecting the lines between personal and political better than most.

As legend would have it, while taking time off from Propagandhi he had time to write and record some solo material. Mr. Samson first released a full-length of cassette-only material entitled Slips and Tangles. Then a few years later he released a split CD with fellow Winnipegers, Painted Thin. The fine people at the G7 Welcoming Committee label of record making decided to "repackage" the songs from the split in a neat little digital EP, Little Pictures.

The six songs that make up the album were originally released in 1995 and are all re-recordings culled from Slips and Tangles. It has now become commonplace for punk rockers to release solo acoustic albums of the kinder and gentler sort, which is perhaps what allows this album to not seem dated. While the songwriting collected here naturally isn't as matured as his current work, it is interesting to see the groundwork laid out. The poetic tender quality of the Weakerthans is given an enhanced vulnerability with just the acoustic guitar and his vocals. The wonderful "Sunday Afternoon" is as soft and wandering as its namesake with lightly picked guitar, slightly soaring vocals and the music stopping completely in parts. It contains the scrumptiously regretful couplet "scattered bits of yesterday, with melancholy flecks of grey, creeping back to show me I was wrong / a heart full of what's hard to say, I've let that skipping record play, far too long." While the album is an almost entirely acoustic guitar affair, musically there is an ample amount of variety. For instance there is a wealth of deference felt between the subtle use of violin on "Maryland Bridge" and the rocking country tinged vibe of "Farewell Faded Memory." Not having the full band allows JKS's voice have an enhanced fragility and in turn honesty.

There is really no filler to be found in the six songs but I wouldn't say there is any completely standout songs either. The major drawback of the album is the digital format -- it is so soulless for such a soulful album. Also the length -- it would be amazing if the whole Slips and Tangles album could have just been re-recorded because songs such as "Greenest Eyes" are too great to be left as they are and mostly unheard. I guess those aren't real gripes though, especially if you don't care to own a physical object. Good stuff.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Weakerthans - Left and LeavingThe Weakerthans - FallowAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseHot Water Music - Fuel For The Hate GameThe Weakerthans - Reconstruction SiteThe Weakerthans - Reunion TourPropagandhi - Less Talk, More RockJawbreaker - Dear YouThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge Therapy

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Wound (December 8, 2006)

I got this record when it came out and the most annoying thing was that there was only one track on the cd. I bought another copy later on and there was a little insert explaining that. Now people can enjoy the record without the annoyance of the one big track... The first time I saw the Weakerthans, they played a song of off this with a full band. Good times.

yerfdog (October 23, 2006)

john k samson is the hot titty jammy-jam. and as usual there is nothing sub-par on this record. goddamn i wish i was canadian.

yerfdog (October 23, 2006)

john k samson is the hot titty jammy-jam. and as usual there is nothing sub-par on this record. goddamn i wish i was canadian.

allison_le_gnome (October 22, 2006)

I kind of like Reconstruction Site best too, though all of the albums are amazing. It has sort of a different sound to it- it's brighter, I think- than the other two, though I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good or a bad thing. It's like how two of my favorite Weakerthans songs are "Our Retired Explorer" and "Illustrated Bible Stories for Children," which sound totally different.

iconoclast (October 22, 2006)

ive never heard a not-amazing weakerthans song

its true, they have not written one bad song.

Anonymous (October 20, 2006)

anybody know what kind of bass rig he used on less talk, more rock?

Anonymous (October 20, 2006)

ive never heard a not-amazing weakerthans song

SloaneDaley (October 19, 2006)

I think my whole experience with The Weakerthans material was one of "oh this is boring" when Left and Leaving came out. Then I went back and really gave Fallow some time and I was hooked.

notfeelingcreative (October 18, 2006)

"I wasn't a fan of Reconstruction Site at first either, but after a few months I came back to it and realized it was incredible."

I gave that album a couple of plays after it was first released then it kind of collected dust for a long time. I decided to break it out a couple of months ago and it's been getting regular rotation from me ever since.

Anonymous (October 18, 2006)

I wasn't a fan of Reconstruction Site at first either, but after a few months I came back to it and realized it was incredible. It's no Left and Leaving, but it's still insanely good.

Anyways, I'm really interested in checking this album out. Too bad it doesn't have Greenest Eyes though, because I love that song.

Anonymous (October 17, 2006)

I thought Reconstruction Site was pretty blah over all. A few great songs, but a lot that were almost good, but not really.

I probably won't bother with this because I don't want to jack of John K. Samson and don't really care what his acoustic demos sound like.

Scruffy (October 17, 2006)

"I must be the only person on earth who thinks Fallow and Reconstruction Site are superior to Left and Leaving. Fallow I believe is there best and most raw and honest and has not a filler track to be found. Where as I find the latter half of Left and Leaving has no real memorable songs."

I think there's a lot less filler on Fallow, but the songs that are good on Left And Leaving blow away anything on Fallow.
It doesn't matter, because Reconstruction Site blows it all away.

Anonymous (October 17, 2006)

The country twinge of reconstruction site was a let down (and I usually live a little alt-country rock) I hope the next weakerthans album is in the vein of Left and Leaving. Incredible album.

i-type-poorly (October 17, 2006)

I woke up to Slips And Tangents playing on the comp this moring. Must get this record.

Anonymous (October 17, 2006)

I must be the only person on earth who thinks Fallow and Reconstruction Site are superior to Left and Leaving. Fallow I believe is there best and most raw and honest and has not a filler track to be found. Where as I find the latter half of Left and Leaving has no real memorable songs.

I maintain that Sounds Familiar is their greatest song.

leecorsoisapenis (October 17, 2006)

I would have to say Left and Leaving is the best Weakerthans album, hands down. The other two are a step below, but still awesome.

Score is for Left and Leaving.

Jim

fistchode (October 17, 2006)

I listen to this EP way more than anything else by the Weakerthans or Propagandhi. Each song is amazing in its own way.

iconoclast (October 17, 2006)

oh and another thing, i wish this wasnt digital only. also, well written review.

iconoclast (October 17, 2006)

all three weakerthans albums are amazing. my favorite is fallow. the most diverse and accoplished of the three i think is left and leaving. the brightest is definitely reconstruction site. get em' all! john's solo stuff is wonderful too. one of the best songwriters ever.

GlassPipeMurder (October 17, 2006)

ok, so you weren't asking what was best...but Reconstruction Site is still the one you should get.

GlassPipeMurder (October 17, 2006)

Reconstruction Site is probably the best. It's a lot more clean than their first two, but it doesn't lose anything. The whole (Manifest)/(Hospital Vespers)/(Past Due) suite is amazing, and holds the album together perfectly. Of course all their albums are great, but I just feel like there's less excess in Reconstruction Site.

SloaneDaley (October 17, 2006)

thats a kind of a tough question to answer. I actually found Reconstruction Site to be the brightest sounding and there is quite a bit of upbeat moments on there. It seems to me people widely consider it their best for what ever that is. Fallow is my favourite.

Not-To-Regret (October 17, 2006)

In response to the guy that prefers Weakerthans over Propagandhi: My opionion is that Propagandhi is a band that gives you goosebumps as the politcal rage and scathing guitars resonate with your brain, if thats what you're into. The weakerthans are great indie rock with a good feeling emotion. So whatever you prefer, but don't give the impression that the weakerthans are better or have more indie cred, they both deserve their own praise for what they do. I found some of the weakerthans tracks to be very dull, and depressing, but maybe thats the idea. But I really want to get into them and maybe this, whats the most rocking and upbeat Weakerthans album as a whole?

GlassPipeMurder (October 17, 2006)

Haven't heard this yet but probably will. Perhaps if he is devoting his solo stuff to the acoustic guitar, the impending(?) Weakerthans album will maintain the punk elements that were ever so present on Reconstruction Site and previous releases?

SloaneDaley (October 17, 2006)

Propagandhi > this

are you being serious or just saying that?

Frankly I'd rather listen to any Weakerthans record before a Propagandhi record (not that I hate them or anything), and this included.

kingofsuck (October 17, 2006)

Propagandhi > this

SloaneDaley (October 17, 2006)

just wanna say that actually one song on here didn't appear on his Slips And Tangles album.

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