February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 March 2010 April 2010


Powered by Blogger

   Wednesday, June 11, 2008  
Men - more specifically musicians - in hats, its a rum business and no mistaking. A band like The Hold Steady, for example, never really stood a chance round here thanks in no small part to that guy in the hat. What a 'character' he must be. Is he called Joey? They usually are. This kind of self-conscious image statement is just an embarrassing distraction: 'Yeah, OK, but what's with the hat?' Harmless affectation? No such thing, says I. So reallyrather was duly conflicted on Monday night at the free Plants and Animals show at the Big Chill House in Kings Cross. Three guys, two hats... didn't look good. Happily, the Canadian trio went quite some way towards defying such superficial preconceptions as they gamely attempted to recreate the expansive, lush sprawl that constitutes much of debut album Parc Avenue armed with just two guitars, three plain voices and a drum kit. Not surprisingly, the more straight-ahead stuff fared best, the subtleties of its mellower, blissed out elements largely goin' out the window in favour of an intense power trio attack driven by dervish drummin'. Things like Feedback in the field (an ace brisk lean chugger with neat effects-pedal guitar) and New kind of love rocked mightily.

[plants and animals]

The record itself careers about all over the place but there's a distinct pysch-jam groove underpinning things. Good friend has a Steely Dan-like sinuousness, with '70s orch-pop moments thrown in. A l'Orée Des Bois, Sea shanty and Keep it real follow the West Coast pilgrimage of Tim Bluhm and the Mother Hips; instrumental closer Guru is some kind of jazz dance raga but, be reassured, is not at all as gruesome as that sounds. And though it flirts with hideousness (like album opener/gig closer Bye bye bye's initial but happily shortlived Coldplay/Antony threat) everything falls just the right side of the line and the whole thing's a great listen. It's the track Faerie dance that points to Parc Avenue's closest recent parallel...

...Annuals' Be he me, similarly fecund and over-stuffed and to this blog's way of thinking more attractive all ways up. And this N. Carolina collective recently put out the stop-gap Zoo EP which adds another two or three slabs of soaring loveliness to the canon, to wit, er, Sore:

And if you like all this kind of stuff you'll definitely want to hear Plants and Animals fellow Montreal native David Martel's just-released debut, I hardly knew me. Though there are some conspicuous influences here (particularly Sufjan Stevens - Love is a straight rip - also, more alarmingly, the preciousness of Rufus Wainwright/Damien Rice) there are too many good tunes and arrangements on here to be ignored. Most immediately appealing is Stay in which has a gorgeously adrenalising second half you'll be singing for days. But Cancel all your plans, the very lovely On the corner, Save your complex etc etc all kind of defy you to press the pause button. And yes, alright, the hat theory looks like taking another kicking...
[david martel][hear the whole album here]

   posted by SMc at 4:55 AM |