Katharine Manson Shares Her Definitive Records

Definitive Records asks interesting Vancouverites to scour their sonic-led memories to pull out the three albums anchoring their musical tastes.

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, and with a collection of no less than 3,000 albums at her disposal, Katharine Manson (founder of Manson Communications) challenged herself and her family to listen to six records per day – an impressive mission for any music-lover! We put her to the task of selecting her defining three…

Mystery Machine | Glazed

Mystery Machine’s Glazed is not just a record, it is the sound track to my youth and it is directly and indirectly responsible for introducing me to most of the music that inspired my musical taste for years to come. Not to mention that I have been partnered up with the bass player for 20 years, a man I met in ’95, two years after this album came out.

My father was in the military so we moved around a lot, but I spent most of my formative years living in Chilliwack. The band is also from Chilliwack, so naturally their first album was a source of pride and hope for all of us feeling stuck in a small town. Before Glazed even came out, the Mystery Machine guys were sharing their musical finds with our social circle, which was defined more by skateboard culture than it was by age. They played shows in Vancouver and were influenced by their community of musicians. They brought back many treasures to Chilliwack in the form of mix tapes and CDs, which were passed around from one person to the next. Without Mystery Machine, I wouldn’t have found My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Nirvana, the Melvins, Hüsker Dü, etc. Some of these bands I was listening to prior to Glazed, but I am not sure I would have found them without the band first introducing them to our town.

Later, in 2001, I started dating Mystery Machine’s bassist, Shane, and the band eventually became an extension of my family. I would be exposed to more music that would continue to shape my taste. Bands like Stereolab and Broken Social Scene, or discovering what Soul Asylum sounded like before 1995.

My favourite songs off Glazed are “Ride,” “Valley Song” (if there ever was a song that encapsulates growing up in Chilliwack, it is this one), and “Underground.”

Fugazi | 13 Songs

I remember the first time I heard “Waiting Room.” I was at an epic party in the middle of nowhere — one of those mixed-age parties that invited an air of intimidation that had to be embraced in order to survive the social tests of the evening. There was a giant joint being passed around. To this day, it is the biggest I have ever seen – the party host hired a guy to roll it and it required two hands to hold it. I was maybe 16 and way out of my league. “Waiting Room” came on and I was immediately captivated by the bass intro and the progression of post-punk-meets-noise-rock that was like nothing I had ever heard. It was smart and poetic.

13 Songs is a compilation of the band’s first two EPs, but as an album it is one of my most influential. Fugazi brought me to bands like No Means No, Black Flag and Seaweed, which in turn led me down a path to discover new school punk like Pennywise and later Lagwagon and Face to Face.

My favourite tracks off 13 Songs are “Glue Man,” “Waiting Room,” and “Margin Walker.”

Dinosaur Jr. | You’re Living All Over Me

There is so much wrapped up in this band for me. Dinosaur Jr. was on heavy rotation in my bedroom as a teenager. I’m pretty sure I had heard Green Mind first but it was You’re Living All Over Me that made the biggest impression. “Little Fury Things” is the first song on the album and was one of the most exciting things I had ever heard, and may be to this day – I still lose my mind when they play it live. The noisy guitar transitions so perfectly into this incredibly beautiful melodic sound. That, combined with J’s unique whiny voice and lyrics, was a perfect expression of my teenage angst.

Where You Been was the first of their albums that I was able to purchase in realtime. I continued to follow Dinosaur Jr. and both J Mascis’s and Lou Barlow’s solo and side projects, and they’ve remained constants in my musical world for 25 years.

My picks from You’re Living All Over Me are “Little Fury Things,” “The Lung” and “In a Jar.”

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