Friday, September 26, 2014

September 2014 reviews

Highly recommended this month: Robert Plant

Worth your while: The Wooden Sky, Ventanas, Moonface, Tricky

The following reviews ran in the Waterloo Record in September.

Hiss Golden Messenger – Lateness of Dancers (Merge)

M.C. Taylor of Durham, N.C., is, based on his lyrics, probably the kind of guy who works long hours at his day job, is a family man at night, leaves his mandolin in the rain and lives for the moment every week when he and his buds get together for a few smokes and some epic jams. Taylor has a Dylanesque drawl, not unlike Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs—but where that band filters their Americana through driving Krautrock beats, Taylor and Hiss Golden Messenger slide easily into the grooves of The Band and Southern rock. The performances are better than any of the actual songs here; the keyboardist and drummer in particular give these sparse songs plenty of subtle soul. (Sept. 4)

Download: “Lucia,” “Saturday’s Song,” “I’m a Raven (Shake Children)”

Vance Joy – Dream Your Life Away (Warner)

It’s frosh season. Our cities are overrun with 19-year-olds entering unfamiliar environs, meeting new friends, missing old ones, and singing songs together at closing time. Once the party spills back into the dorm rooms, there will be someone with a guitar playing, among other things, Vance Joy songs.

It’s most likely to be “Riptide,” a hit earlier this year; it might also be “Mess Is Mine,” the song most likely to be played at weddings five years down the road by couples meeting this week. Joy may be riding on a post-Lumineers zeitgeist moment, with his slightly Celtic melodies and largely acoustic instrumentation, but his songs are less gimmicky. There’s nothing in a Vance Joy song that could possibly ruffle any feather (sample titles: “All I Ever Wanted,” “Best That I Can,” “We All Die Trying to Get It Right”); he’s an everyman making pleasant music that never descends into the treacly. Just because this is the kind of music that surfers might play around campfires in Joy’s native Australia doesn’t make him a new Jack Johnson. It makes him a lot better. For the frosh today, he’s probably going to be the soundtrack of their lives. (Sept. 18)

Download: “Mess is Mine,” “Riptide,” “First Time”

Lowell – We Loved Her Dearly (Arts and Crafts)

A 23-year-old, globetrotting Calgarian who dropped out of the University of Toronto’s music school to write songs for the likes of the Backstreet Boys (yes, in 2013), Lowell comes with an impressive resumé even before this, her debut album. She’s every bit the modern girl: part Tegan and Sara, part Lykke Li, part, um, Bananarama. A sunnier and peppier Cat Power, slave to no genre, writing occasionally candid personal songs to upbeat poppy beats. It’s smarter than (what’s presumed to be) teen pop; it’s too juvenile for anyone over 30 (i.e., the chorus that goes, “Money, hey! Money, woo!”). One of the catchiest songs is “LGBT”: a simple, sing-songy trifle with the chorus: “Hello my name is LGBT / don’t take out your misery on me / I’m happy, I’m happy and free.” It all sounds tailor-made for a spot on the Girls soundtrack. As a bold new artist, Lowell is one to watch. And while half of all frosh students will be learning Vance Joy songs on guitar, the other half is probably dancing to Lowell. (Sept. 18)

Download: “Cloud 69,” “LGBT,” “Words Were the Wars”

Moonface – City Wrecker EP (Paper Bag)

Moonface is the most recent moniker for Spencer Krug, late of Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown. It’s supposed to be a catch-all name where every record sounds different from the last—until now, where this EP follows lockstep behind 2013’s Polaris long-listed Julia With Blue Jeans On, in its stripped-down piano-and-voice arrangements. Krug has gone full-on piano lounge, except this lounge is in a run-down hotel in smalltown Finland, where a misplaced Anglophone is pouring his heart out over minor chords. The title track is as personal as Krug has ever been, speaking frankly about why he left Montreal for Helsinki several years back (he recently relocated again, to Vancouver Island). “We all know safety is a blessing and a curse,” he sings. Which is why he is unafraid to sing whatever’s on his mind: even when the lyrics fall flat or he’s uncomfortably frank, his piano playing is beautiful—despite odd, ham-fisted outbreaks that shatter the mood—and he’s singing better than he ever has. Moonface is confounding, deliberately so, it seems. It’s raw. It’s honest. And Spencer Krug is making some of the best music of his storied career. (Sept. 18)

Download: “City Wrecker,” “Running in Place With Everyone,” “Daughter of a Dove”

Karen O – Crush Songs (Sony)

The debut solo album from Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O is not new. She says she wrote and recorded these songs when she was 27, when she “crushed a lot. I wasn’t sure I’d ever fall in love again.” There’s no official word on whether this has anything to do with a leaked demo CD (stolen from a suitcase misplaced by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek) made in 2006—the year Ms. O was 27. Either way, why is she choosing to release this time capsule now?

Crush Songs is a lo-fi affair, seemingly recorded on a four-track tape deck, featuring just O (and her own backing vocals) and a guitar, not unlike “Modern Romance” or “Subway” or any time the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have included a hushed, Lou Barlow-ish bedroom recording amidst their usual rock’n’roll maelstrom. The only difference is that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are a three-headed songwriting partnership; O on her own can offer only half-baked ideas. Being the charismatic vocalist she is, of course, she doesn’t have to do much more than show up; she’s a compelling presence no matter the circumstance. Sadly, this serves more as a historical curiosity rather than a statement from a major artist. It’s no Nebraska. (Sept. 18)

Download: “Ooo,” “Body King,” “Sing Along”

Robert Plant – Lullaby and… the Ceaseless Roar (Universal)

Never mind Led Zeppelin. Or even Alison Krauss. Remember the Afro-Celt Soundsystem? Robert Plant sang on a 2001 track by that cross-cultural experiment—the template for 1,001 folk festival workshops ever since—and it informs much of this new album, where African blues, Celtic banjos and fiddles (actually a Gambian riti), and electronic beats dominate the sound. It could easily fall flat on its face—and sometimes it does. But Robert Plant is a classy guy these days (see also: his excellent 2010 album Band of Joy), and here he’s assembled an impeccable band—featuring collaborators of Jah Wobble and Portishead—to execute his plan. (Reassembled, actually; many of them were part of his Strange Sensation band in the early 2000s, including guitarist Justin Adams.)

There is more lullaby here than ceaseless roar: Plant is a zen state, even if his recent divorce from Patty Griffin finds him singing about “the breaking of two hearts” on “House of Love (Is Burning Down).” The only time he attempts to pick up the tempo is on “Turn It Up,” a track about as imaginative as its title; it’s the only clunker on this remarkably consistent record, which channels its intensity in much more subtle ways—especially on the stark piano ballad “A Stolen Kiss,” where the 66-year-old singer delivers one of his loveliest vocals, perhaps ever. (Sept. 11)

Download: “Little Maggie,” “A Stolen Kiss,” “Up on the Hollow Hill”

Sloan – Commonwealth (Yep Roc)

Sloan titled their 2008 album Parallel Play, a term for toddlers who have yet to learn how to interact, who play side by side. It was a self-deprecating dig at the fact that Sloan’s four members were increasingly working in isolation, developing their own individual visions independent of each other while still in the same band. On 2011’s The Double Cross, however, Sloan had never sounded so collaborative and coherent; it was a hands-down highlight in their 20-year discography.

Here, they’re back to their old ways. Parallel Play was not a great Sloan album; neither is this one, where each member is given one side of a vinyl record with which they can do whatever they please. Jay Ferguson and Chris Murphy opt for five songs each. Master of concision Patrick Pentland offers four. Oddball drummer Andrew Scott delivers an 18-minute Syd Barrett-ish suite that’s easily the strangest thing in the Sloan catalogue (it involves barking dogs and a children’s choir).

Ferguson is first up to bat, followed by Murphy, Pentland and Scott—was this an alphabetical decision? Or maybe some outside mediator decided to order the album by quality: Ferguson’s songs are all lovely, rich with classic Sloan harmonies, and likely to be the most enduring. Murphy opens his set with one of his best, “Carried Away”; the rest don’t rise to that standard, though in “So Far So Good” he does score the album’s best lyric: “Don’t be surprised when we elect another liar / did you learn nothing from five seasons of The Wire?” Pentland can usually be counted on for surefire rockers; this time, only the amusing “13 (Under a Bad Sign)” is likely to raise any fists. Meanwhile, his clunky rock ballad has the unfortunately accurate chorus: “What’s inside is dead.” Scott’s suite, for all its obtuseness, is not a solo act: it at least sounds like the band is capable of working together and pushing their creative boundaries, even if it doesn’t always work. (Sept. 11)

Download: “You Got a Lot On Your Mind,” “Carried Away,” “13 (Under a Bad Sign)”

Tricky – Adrian Thaws (False Idols/Arts and Crafts)

Trip-hop pioneer Tricky’s golden period was in the mid- to late ’90s, when he put out five albums in six years and helped define the era’s sound—one that’s now back in vogue as mainstream hip-hop and R&B have taken turns into darker, downtempo material (see: Drake, The Weeknd, Frank Ocean). Then came a decade of diminishing returns. Now he’s on his own label, answering to no one, and this is his second album in 18 months. He claimed that 2013’s False Idols was his best work since his 1995 debut: he was right. This album, titled after his birth name, is just as strong. The man is on a roll once again.

As usual, he does so with the help of powerful ladies: newcomers Tirzah and Francesca Belmonte, and MC Bella Gotti, who spits furious verses on “Why Don’t You” (chorus: “Why dontcha come and get f--ked?”) and a cover of an obscure 1990 single by London Posse (“Gangster Chronicle”), which Tricky cites as a life-changing influence. Even more powerful are Tricky’s forays into house music, notably on the single “Nicotine Love,” which counteract the delicate, sensual downtempo tracks, the likes of which he made his name—but, as evidenced by this album’s breadth, no longer define him. (Sept. 11)

Download: “Sundown” (feat. Tirzah), “Nicotine Girl” (feat. Francesca Belmonte), “Right Here” (feat. Oh Land)

Ventanas – s/t (Fedora Upside Down)

Jewish music in North America is often marketed as klezmer. That’s only half the story, as klezmer is the exclusive domain of the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe. For Sephardic Jews of Iberia, North Africa and the Middle East, there’s an entirely different musical tradition, and that’s what Toronto quintet Ventanas tap into. With some players borrowed from raucous East European party band Lemon Bucket Orchestra, Ventanas is led by flamenco student Tamar Ilana, the daughter of an ethnomusicologist: clearly she knows her material well. These are not dabblers. Ilana is a strong vocalist, and the percussion shares equal space with virtuosic performances on violin and clarinet; the production is superb. If anyone can carve out some space for Sephardic music in folk and jazz festivals in this country, it should be Ventanas. (Sept. 18)

Download: “Tha Spaso Kupes,” “Gusta Mi Magla,” “Oy Que Buena”

The Wooden Sky – Let’s Be Ready (Chelsea)

Toronto’s The Wooden Sky is full of piss and vinegar on this, their fifth album. They’ve always juggled rootsy instrumentation and epic stadium rock, but never as effectively as they do here: hushed ballads one minute, Tom Petty rockers the next, Radiohead-esque guitar textures the next. Sometimes the influences are too obvious: “Maybe It’s No Secret” sounds suspiciously like the Constantines’ “Young Lions” as covered by Blue Rodeo. No matter; it works. Singer/songwriter Gavin Gardiner has been moonlighting as a producer for other local acts; he also works as a mastering engineer at one of Canada’s top facilities. Listening to this, it’s clear he saves his best work for his own band: the whole record sounds like a million bucks. His voice is a commanding instrument, one that quivers and quakes at all the right moments; the rest of the band’s backing vocals, especially on the call-and-response closer “Don’t You Worry About a Thing,” provide extra colour. This band has played second banana to many of their more successful peers over the years, but now it’s time to light up The Wooden Sky. (Sept. 4)

Download: Saturday Night, Maybe It’s No Secret, Our Hearts Were Young

Zeus – Classic Zeus (Arts and Crafts)

They don’t make bands like Zeus anymore. Childhood friends who grew up learning how to play and sing together, their chemistry—and harmony—is impeccable. They later cut their teeth as sidemen for Jason Collett; their ear for arrangements is egoless. If their first two albums saw them indulging the classic rock influences of their youth, Classic Zeus finds them tinkering more in the studio, toying more with structure and dynamics. Even though there are fewer riffs and hooks this time out, the attention to detail and craft make this a far more rewarding album than if it had shot for the obvious. They sing about someone who is “old enough to make a difference but young enough not to care,” but it’s clear that they do care—a lot. (Sept. 4)

Download: “Straight Through the Light,” “Miss My Friends,” “Old Enough To Know”

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cohen v Cohen

Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems (Sony)

Leonard Cohen is the most successful 80-year-old musician still putting out new records and selling out stadiums (sorry, Willie Nelson and Tony Bennett).

So what are these “popular problems” of which Cohen speaks? “There’s torture and there’s murder / and there’s all my bad reviews / it’s almost like the blues. ”

I guess the blues aren’t as bad as horrific crimes against humanity, and maybe they’re worse than ruffling some rock critic’s feathers.

Cohen has battled the blues all his life: he suffered bouts of clinical depression until the late 1990s. Cohen—who is older than Elvis Presley would be today—has also resisted blues music and anything resembling rock’n’roll for his entire recording career; he was trained on Spanish guitar, not a blues scale (there’s a very strange amalgam of the two in the opening of 2012’s “Darkness”). Other than the occasional flash of country music, his musical mind has usually been drawn to Old Europe. That changed on 2012’s Old Ideas, and it’s even more pronounced here, where at least half the songs are stripped-down blues songs—delivered, of course, not with guitars, but electric pianos and (of course) plenty of female backing vocals. The simpler, the better—especially on “Nevermind,” a one-chord piano vamp with little more than a four-on-the-floor bass drum and strings that sting like Isaac Hayes.

Old Ideas producer Patrick Leonard returns, and proves to be perhaps the most complementary collaborator Cohen has had since John Simon produced the debut album. As we know, when Cohen is left to his own devices in the last 30 years, he favours presets on dollar-store keyboards. Patrick Leonard co-wrote eight of the nine songs (the other, “Born in Chains,” has been simmering for 40 years, says Cohen; indeed, it sounds like it’s from Various Positions), and arranged them with Cohen’s live band—especially keyboardist Neil Larsen—employed sparingly and for maximum effect. Cohen’s early 2000s albums with Sharon Robinson were—to her chagrin—sterile and static. These, on the other hand, crackle with life: the band has soul, and, almost shockingly, so does Cohen, whose sub-baritone gets even more luxurious with each passing year—if that’s at all possible.

If Old Ideas had Cohen drinking from darkness’s cup, he’s in a relatively sunnier place here. Not just when mocking his own blues or his rep as a morose mumbler (“I’ve always liked it slow”), but when he puts a bonafide spring in his step in “Did I Ever Love You” (his most rousing song since “Closing Time”), and concludes the album by telling us, “You got me singing / even though the news is bad.”

When you’re his age and still making some of the best work of your career—and apparently, just like he was when Old Ideas was released, he’s already halfway through yet another record—the news is never bad.

Download: “Nevermind,” “Almost Like the Blues,” “Did I Ever Love You”

Adam Cohen – We Go Home (Universal)

Adam Cohen sings, “If things get heavy / just put your bags down.” Young(ish) Adam has some serious and obvious baggage, because of inevitable comparisons to his father (see above). So: seriously? Did no one at Universal check the release date for the paterfamilias? Would Jakob Dylan ever think of putting out an album within a week of Bob? Would Sean Lennon ever piggyback on some Beatles reissue? They’d just be asking for more trouble than they already have.

Adam Cohen is not a dabbler; he’s spent more than 15 years as a professional musician and has some minor hits to his name (and yet: name one). There is nothing about We Go Home that is inherently awful. But there is also precious little that leaves any kind of impression at all, except when young Cohen comes clean and directly addresses the shadow under which he lives: “They will speak of my father when he is not around … When I consult a mirror / it’s both of us I see … I will speak like my father / when he’s not around / you will hear his voice / like you’re hearing it now.”

Except that based on existing evidence, there’s no reason to believe that Adam Cohen is ready to fill any kind of void.

Download: “Love Is,” “What Kind of Woman,” “Fall Apart”

Friday, September 19, 2014

Polaris 2014, day five: Timber Timbre, Yamantaka Sonic Titan, Strumbellas, 36

Every day this week I posted about two Polaris Prize shortlisted acts and two equally—if not more—worthy albums from the year in question. This is the final installment. The winner will be announced at the gala Sept. 22.

The shortlisted

Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams (Arts and Crafts)

The album: This isn’t supposed to enter into Polaris considerations, but I’ve liked Hot Dreams considerably more since I was completely blown away by their career-making Massey Hall performance. I had seen Timber Timbre several times over the years, but this current lineup is electrifying and elastic, and even if most of these songs sound exactly the same, goddam do they ever sound incredible. Note: everyone except Taylor Kirk is part of an instrumental soundtrack project called Last Ex, whose debut comes out on Constellation Records on Oct. 14. You can hear a track here.

My Hot Dreams review from April:

Timber Timbre frontman Taylor Kirk checked into Heartbreak Hotel, and he never left. The more he discovered how haunted it really is, the more he liked it. On this, his fifth album, he still drenches his voice in rockabilly reverb and peers into every dark corner he can find, using blues, ’50s lounge crooner music, ’60s spaghetti Western soundtracks (you can almost hear the clip-clop of trotting horses on the opening track, “Beat the Drum Slowly) and sheets of spooky-ass noise of indecipherable origin. Organs wheeze, pianos grown, lecherous saxophones beckon, string sections weep and sing. All the while, as always, one can’t help but picture Harry Dean Stanton imbuing Roy Orbison songs with eternal dread in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet—especially when Kirk calls in female backing singers to sing what Kelly Hogan calls “Roddenberries” (vocals that sound like the Star Trek theme song) over a bolero beat. Doom is always either imminent or has already wreaked its havoc, leaving desolate survivors to wade through the wreckage.  

Sound like a good time? No, of course not. But everyone loves a good creep: just ask the creators of The Walking Dead, or Breaking Bad; the latter has used Timber Timbre’s music in the past. Kirk runs the risk of camp, which he fell into far too often on his last album, where the lyrics tried too hard to create the sense of dread that the music did naturally. He’s more careful this time out, although there’s the occasional clunker—like when he opens a song by declaring, “I want to dance with a black woman.”  

If Kirk’s songwriting is neither here nor there (there’s an odd melodic nod to “Rivers of Babylon” on the track “Grand Canyon”), he and his band continue to improve as arrangers: there’s a strong influence of dub reggae, psychedelia and RZA-style hip-hop production that leaves plenty of space for ghostly textures, and sets them far apart from other rootsy retro acts who think reverb and a Farfisa organ are convenient crutches to create mood. Guest performer (for the third album in a row now) Colin Stetson on saxophone is also a welcome presence.  

Timber Timbre has a shtick, and Taylor Kirk is sticking to it. It’s not only working for him, but he keeps getting better at it. 

The chances: Good. Unless you’re totally turned off by the shtick, this album gets better and better with repeated spins. As with all Timber Timbre records, it maintains a consistent mood, and this time there are no dud tracks at all, even if the songs are secondary to the performances and production—both of which are stellar. This is a tough year: I still think the final three albums jurors will be arguing will be Drake, Tagaq and Basia Bulat. But anything can happen, of course, and that includes Timber Timbre getting their due.

Yamantaka Sonic Titan – Uzu (Paper Bag)

The album: Describing this band usually makes their music sound more exciting than it is. Calling themselves “noh-wave,” a nod to Japanese kabuki, this female-fronted prog-metal band draw from paranoid psychedelia, Black Sabbath, Asian melodies and Native American rhythms to craft something unlike anything else in this country or anywhere else. (Sweden's Goat, who have a new album out this month, are the only thing in remotely the same ballpark, that I'm aware of.) For a heavy band, they’re never quite heavy enough; for a weird, trippy band, they’re never quite weird or trippy enough. The rhythms can plod, the ideas sound stillborn. So much creativity and potential here; only half of it is ever realized.

When it works, of course, it’s brilliant: “One” (not a Metallica cover) is exhilarating and monstrous, demanding to be played at top volume. The guitars are searing, the vocals are haunting, and the drummer actually decides to drive the band for a change. It’s preceded by the two other strongest tracks: “Seasickness Pt 2” and “Bring Me The Hand of Bloody Benzaiten,” the triptych of which display almost everything this band can do. On the flipside, “Windflower” and “Saturn’s Return” are lovely, almost pretty.

I don’t doubt that one day, sooner than later, Y/ST will make their magnum opus and that it will be brilliant. Uzu is not it.

The chances: Average. Y/ST’s uniqueness would score them major points in any other year—it certainly did the last time they were shortlisted, with their 2011 debut album. But this year you can’t out-freak the freakiest of them all: Tanya Tagaq, who is twice as intense and mysterious and, because she operates outside of any genre at all, doesn’t have any baggage or expectation to live up to. Whereas there are times when I just want Y/ST to be a better metal band, or to just freak the fuck out.

The could’ve been, should’ve beens:

The Strumbellas – We Still Move on Dance Floors (Six Shooter)

The album: As someone who grew up on Spirit of the West, the Pogues, the Waterboys, and pre-Achtung Baby U2, this band pushes a lot of my teenage buttons. Now I’m an adult who can count on one finger the number of even remotely Celtic acts he’s enjoyed in the last 20 years. (I’m not even sure who that might be—I’m just saying that to cover my bases.) And yet this band warms my cold, cold, self-hating Scot heart.

Yes, it was produced by the guy behind the Lumineers record, so yes, there are a few “hey-ho” moments here. And yes, the eighth-note piano pulse on “Sailing” appears to be a direct nod to Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion”—and Lord knows we’ve endured enough carbon copies of that band in the last 10 years. There’s nothing particularly original here, so the cool and the jaded can stay at home.

But these are the kind of songs people learn to play with their first bands, the kind of songs on which you learn how to sing harmony, the kind of songs you sing when you’re 23 and music has the power to lift you up and envision futures full of possibility, the kind of songs you sing at the summer folk festival until you fall down drunk in the mud. They’re great songs, and this is a great band with real chemistry, an anthemic rock band that knows how to employ banjo, violin and accordion tastefully without sounding like a hokey revival show.

Thirty minutes, nine songs, every one of them is a hit. It’s even more impressive if you managed to hear their debut, which—well, let’s just say I didn’t expect much going into this. The Strumbellas didn’t make the 2014 shortlist, but they’re going to be cashing a lot of folk festival cheques for at least the next decade based on this album alone.

Why it didn’t make the shortlist: Two words that act as instant rockcrit repellent: “Hey-ho!”

36? – Where Do We Go From Here? (independent)

The album: I’m an old guy. To be honest, I don’t listen to a lot of music made by people younger than 25 anymore. Except this band, this guy: Calgary’s Taylor Cochrane—who just turned 25, and this is his sixth album since he was a 17-year-old on various medications to treat his ADD. Judging by this record, he’s lived several lifetimes in one. As 36?, he tries on a lot of hats—and they all fit. A lot of bands who try this end up failing miserably—even, as we’ve seen, the mighty Arcade Fire. Here, however, Cochrane is at once a snotty punk, an ambient balladeer, a swaggering falsetto singer, a folkie delivering soaring anthems—and that’s all on the first five songs. “How fucked up can it get?” he sings on “Mrs. Brown.” Pretty fucked up indeed, as proven by a 13-minute, three-song noise collage near the end of the album.

Here’s my review from March of this year:

As per the perplexing band name and album title, Where Do We Go From Here sounds like a confusing mess on the surface. It’s not. It’s actually one of the most refreshing and inventive Canadian rock records in a long while.  

Bandleader Taylor Cochrane delivers ambitious and anthemic alt-rock, psychedelic textures, weirdo electro-pop, folkie detours and a three-part suite of ambient noise: the kind of mix tape or open-format radio show no one makes anymore. That all-out noise excursion aside, Cochrane writes great pop songs, and then throws everything he can at them to see if they survive. There’s no indication here what instruments Cochrane or his bandmates Eric Svilpis and Scott White handle individually; it’s safe to assume there are no slackers on board. Drummer Ryan Kusz gives it all muscle that prevents everything from drifting apart: in the middle of the eclectic experimentalism, this is a rock band. It also helps that Cochrane is no vocal slouch either: when he goes for those high notes that all emo boys attempt, Cochrane actually pulls it off. Nineties campus radio fans: imagine Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum joining Change of Heart circa Smile.  

What’s next for this band? Apparently a plan to rerecord this album with household objects and acoustic instruments. Why would they do that? Like everything heard here: just because.

Unrelated tangent: With the sole exception of Chad Van Gaalen, 36? may well be the only musical act from Calgary I've ever loved. I've yet to be convinced otherwise.

Why it didn’t even make the long list: You think the rest of Canada hates Toronto? Not true. The rest of Canada hates Calgary. But seriously, this should be on Arts and Crafts or Merge or Sub Pop or Matador: it’s way too big to be relegated to Bandcamp. I’m sad Polaris couldn’t give it a bigger push.