Review – “Legato Vipers” – Legato Vipers

LV-CD-Pocketreviewed by Michael Thomas

Whoever’s idea it was to say “Hey, the world needs an instrumental surf-rock band” deserves some credit for bringing Legato Vipers into existence. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes this band so appealing—but it’s most likely the commitment to no frills and no bullshit, just a bunch of less-than-three-minute-long blasts of rock and roll.

A year-and-a-half or so from Legato Vipers’ Quick Slug, the band’s self-titled debut is—to continue the alcohol metaphor—drinking a bunch of shots in rapid succession, with the added bonus of not getting sick to your stomach afterward.

Eagle-eyed listeners will note that eight of the band’s 12 (well, 13) tracks made their debut on Quick Slug but fear not, Legato Vipers is a new beast, recorded live off the floor. So the LP’s version of “Angel Dust” won’t sound like Quick Slug‘s “Angel Dust.”

Working mostly within the “surf-rock” genre, it won’t be easy to identify each song by its name—the chances of you eventually going “Aha! I thought this sounded like ‘Penetang Hips'” are slim to none—but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of variety.

For some straight-up surf rock to soundtrack your next spy movie, tackle “Spy vs. Spy” (obviously) and “Gangly Dancer.” To take a bit of a breather, ease into “Brian’s Beard” and “Sweet 16,” which happen to fall back-to-back.

For something a bit more ferocious, there’s “Mama Fury” and “Don’t Fear the Cab Driver Mister Reaper.” And for something all-out blistering, there’s “Penetang Hips” (okay, perhaps you might eventually know “Penetang Hips” on hearing it).

Anyway, Legato Vipers embodies everything the band is about—strutting around in leather jackets and playing some sweet guitar solos. Where there was previously a flask is now a full-sized bottle of Southern Comfort.

Top Tracks: “Spy vs. Spy”; “Gangly Dancer”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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Review – “Power Buddies” – Power Buddies

Reviewed by Jack Derricourt

Power Buddies

“What’s your power buddy?” That very might well be the new small talk in Edmonton bars; a new astrology for the rock and roll heart. Answers will flow like Alberta premium liquor: a skateboarding dirtbag, a skitterish toothfairy, a tattooed waitress, a heavy metal jesus. The totems will be numerous and will be proclaimed the guardians of every rollicking musical show on the planet Earth.

The Power Buddies are in reality a three piece from the aforementioned dreamy town in Northern Alberta. They were smart enough to use their powerful name as much as possible, and so the new release for 2014 shares the moniker. Recorded at the Taco Tray — what I can only assume is the spiciest recording space in Edmonton — the eight tracks on the release offer up a healthy serving of rootsy rock and lofi shine. You’ll like the Buddies if you’re into Fidlar, Murder City Devils, Slam Dunk, or the Beatles. Or tacos.

There’s a lot of twang in the mix. This is definitely the most tex mex of the Edmonton stuff I’ve heard so far. Some very Al Kooper ghostly organ work going on, and only minimal drum parts. The vocals have been layered heavily, and slapped around, so that they come through with an almost New Wave slither when they do hit the ears. All three Buddies pull vocal work, which alters things up nicely as the album cruises along. The guitar parts are mixed and interesting: the record features everything from ballsy blues chords to wiry surf tremolo parts, spanning a nice selection of styles in between.

The songs themselves are delightfully introspective. Psychotic insomnia, empty promises for the future, and the loss of self-control are all featured in technicolour. Not the cheap beer and hungover mornings that many of us are used to witnessing in conjunction with this sound — though those make for wonderful songs as well. It seems the Buddies want more out of their lyrical material. Well done there, pushing the envelope open and stuffing it full of scream therapy recordings.

A couple of favourite pets: “In My Mind” has a slaying beat and a hook-driven verse part that will tame the wildest heart; and “I Saw a Light” is a glorious, creepy love song. There is no reason this record isn’t already a part of computer’s soul, and in turn your own. Give it a shot. Get into Power Buddies.

Top Tracks: “I Can’t Sleep” , “In My Mind” , “Every Night”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)


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Review – “Museum With No Walls” – Blood and Glass

reviewed by Eleni Armenakis unnamed-2

Listening to Blood and Glass’s debut album, I’m still stunned to think this is their first. Partners Lisa and Morgan Moore, along with bandmates Robbie Kuster, Melanie Belair and Francois Lafontaine sound like they’ve been at this for awhile—and the collaborations they’ve pulled off on their first LP give that impression as well, grabbing help from Patrick Watson, Brad Barr, Simon and Erica Angell and Jocelyn Veilleux.

Museum With No Walls captures Lisa Moore’s breathy, ethereal vocals and pairs them up with an exhilarating and haunting mix for what they’ve dubbed Baroque pop. Even as the music feels dreamy and gentle, it gives off a surprising punch, especially on tracks like “Photograph,” that still push your body to sway and move with the tapping rhythm and eclectic blending of sounds.

The second half of the album strips away some of that dreaming, coming to life with a series of dark, pulsating tracks that feel more energetic than the M83-style opener. Closer “Birdy” turns the familiar pattern of a lullaby into an ominous chant while “Bad Dreams” revisits their talking opener with urgency. Everything starts to feel stronger and more present as the album progresses, abandoning the lingering, whispish quality of the earlier tracks for a sense of presence and complexity.

But while things get increasingly experimental as the album progresses, the early tracks capitalize on catchy hooks sung softly by Moore. “Paper Heart” breathes heavily into the chorus with barely-restrained emotion, and the tugging whine of the violin on the intro to “Floating Nora” sets the tone for the mesmerizing melody. Even “Inferno” captivates with subtle brushes and choir-esque humming, accenting a delicate turn to the vocals.

From electronic whirring to the shifting tones of Moore’s emotive singing there’s a multifaceted journey to Museum With No Walls. At times the fourteen tracks engage in a push and pull between truly delving into experimentation with their semi-electronic sound and taking advantage of the natural, inescapable ambience they can create when they dial things back. The one constant is the sense, long after the final note has blown away, that there was something eerie and beautiful created here.

Museum with No Walls will be released on October 21.

Top Tracks: “Paper Heart”; “Floating Nora”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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Review – “Waterwings” – Hush Pup

waterwingsreviewed by Michael Thomas

While the “dream pop” label is becoming well-worn in this day and age of DIY, there truly is no band more deserving of the title than Victoria/Toronto’s Hush Pup. To hear Ida Maidstone (Triple Gangers) sing is probably what it would sound like if an angel opened its mouth.

Noted, it’s high praise, but the accompanying instrumentals help to accent her breathy and emotive vocals. While Darlene, the band’s debut EP, gave only a tantalizing glimpse into the band with three songs, Waterwings doubles the dosage with six—yes—dreamy songs.

And it’s really hard to get more perfect than the opener “Thailand.” Crystalline synths pulse before Maidstone’s vocals come in, singing about keeping a “stash” in Thailand. The song would already be great if it was just four minutes of Maidstone and subtle synths, but halfway through it shifts gears, with an 8-bit synth beat and some light drums adding a new dimension.

The band is no one-trick pup though; “Swimming” weaves together a beautiful combination of a repeating guitar line, deep bass and distant, sometimes woozy synths to truly make this song feel like it’s taking place underwater. It also has a penchant for shapeshifting, later becoming something like a lo-fi campfire song.

“Magic Hour” may be the band’s sexiest song to date—the synthesizers are so finely-tuned they sound like strings and a gentle few notes on guitar make this an ideal song to listen to at 2 a.m. as everything begins to blur around. “In the Dark” also appropriately belongs in the nighttime, with Maidstone’s delivery and accompanying synths/guitar stretching out just a tad longer to induce that wee-hour delirium. And despite its tough-sounding title, “Fighter” also takes it easy.

Not to give the impression that the band is all about slow jams—”Wait Up” kicks things up a notch with a more guitar-focused melody and crunchier lyrics like “Gonna give to ya/In the car…”

The Bandcamp description of this EP says it was “recorded at the noise floor, on a magical island” and it shouldn’t take much to believe that Hush Pup does, in fact, originate from a mythical place that no one else has access to.

Top Tracks: “Thailand”; “Swimming”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*

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Review – “I Was A Worker And Now I’m Old” – No Museums

reviewed by Elysse Cloma

Place No Museums in the Same Band, Different Name file. EdmoNo Museums Album Artworknton’s Twin Library is now called No Museums, out with their recent debut release I Was A Worker And Now I’m Old.

The seven-song album is like Wonder Bread. It’s familiar, tasteful, easy to digest, and inconspicuously fortified. No Museums has mastered the alt-rock sound of the ‘90s – think of Pavement, or Built To Spill, and add a pinch of The Velvet Underground or The Jesus and Mary Chain. Like Pavement songs, the songs on I Was A Worker And Now I’m Old are filled with layers of distorted guitar. “Engine Parts” and “The Mountain Slowing Down” have the essential workings of ‘90s alt-rock: familiar without being predictable, comfortably mid-tempo, and simple melodies that tend to float and lull the listener into a thoughtless daze.

There is a sense of ease on I Was A Worker And Now I’m Old, and the songs feel like background music at times. They often end abruptly, seemingly lacking in structure or  purpose. A closer listen to each song reveals otherwise. There are very purposeful guitar hooks, embellishments of subtle synth, and well stated percussion fills. The careful switch to acoustic guitar on the outro of “National Dark Parks” shows that I Was A Worker and Now I’m Old is more than just a series of sonic pleasantries.

If you’re looking for an album to bob your head to in 4/4 time, check out I Was A Worker and Now I’m Old.

Top Tracks: “Engine Parts”, “The Mountain Slowing Down”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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Review – “Right From Real” – Lydia Ainsworth

reviewed by Anna Algerdownload (11)

Montreal artist Lydia Ainsworth is creating enviable soundscapes through her use of vocal sampling, synthesized beats, and haunting melodic lines. I saw her and her (very talented) band open for Owen Pallett in Ottawa last weekend and it was a magical night. She reminds me a bit of Kate Bush with a touch of Bat for Lashes thrown in, but Ainsworth is truly unique and brings a sound that is all her own – taking influence from a variety of sources such as Bulgarian choral music and Art of Noise.

“Candle,” the first track on Right From Real, opens with an understated rhythm and strong strings. Ainsworth’s lyrics are full of imagery and paired with a simple melody that becomes jagged as her sampling prowess comes into focus. Her music is the synthesis of many small bits of intrigue, and this song is an example of just how seamlessly they are all able to mesh. The following song, “White Shadows,” opens with a curious sounding introduction, fleshed out by a repetitive call over splintered vocal samples. She layers her vocals to create a choral effect, which fades away as the strings begin to soar.

“Malachite” really highlights the influence of choral music on Ainsworth’s sound, with what sounds like synthesized Gregorian chanting backing throughout the verses. Rolling synth lines and a simple beat are featured as well. “Take Your Face Off” has more prominent drumming than in previous songs, which adds some more excitement to the midway point on the record. Ainsworth does solemn music well, but she can also create true jams with a danceable air. “Moonstone” pairs beautifully crafted lyrics with various vocal modulations and a driving beat. Some of the phrases seem slightly lengthy when trying to fit in with the music, but the song still retains cohesion. The final three tracks on the album continue this journey through the artist’s visceral world, a highlight being “PSI,” a steady pop song that has a welcome light air to it.

Lydia Ainsworth has made a striking collection of songs in Right From Real, defining herself as an artist whose work is well worth exploration. Combining traditional orchestral instruments such as the cello and violin with synthesizing, sampling, and lovely voice styling, Ainsworth is developing a layered sound full of wonder and imagination, which is also able to be translated live in an expert fashion. Bravo.

Right From Real is out now via Arbutus Records.

Top Tracks: “White Shadows,” “PSI,” “Malachite”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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Review – “In My Dreams” – Mo Kenney

by Laura Stanley & Michael ThomasIn_My_Dreams_-_Mo_Kenney (1)

Mo Kenney’s In My Dreams came out September 30, and both Laura and Michael found the album to be worthy of close dissection. Much like Grayowl’s previous double review, this will be in a Crosstalk-esque format.

Michael: When Mo Kenney appeared in the music scene it was like she was an old soul—except she hasn’t even hit 25 yet. Her self-titled debut was chock full of maturity both in musical composition—like in the Joel Plaskett-featuring “Scene of the Crime” or the intense “Five Years.” Kenney even won a Socan prize for the poignant “Sucker.”

And when it came time for a follow-up, lo and behold. Kenney has stepped up both her songwriting and her arrangements. Her songs can range from the devastatingly simple (“Telephones”) to the obliteratingly complex (“Untouchable”). And if the arrangements weren’t enough, oh boy does Kenney knock it out of the park with her lyrics.

The opener “I Faked It” speaks for herself, and Kenney is so nonchalant that it gives the lyrics extra power. The aforementioned “Telephone,” a cover of a song by Halifax’s Mardeen, gets especially powerful as Kenney sings “When we’re alone together talkin’ like babies/I know just how to keep you in my head.” And let’s not forget the way Kenney introduces “Take Me Outisde”: “Take me outside and blow my fucking head off with your eyes.”

Suffice to say this album features a lot of heartbreak, where Kenney sometimes wallows in despair (“Wind Will Blow”) but is other times just plain angry (“Dancing”).

Laura, you and I both felt a deep emotional connection to “Telephones” and are generally a sucker for such painfully honest lyrics. Which songs really hit home for you the most, and why?

Laura: I’m so glad that you too felt the attitude Kenney brings to In My Dreams. My favourite quality of this record is Kenney’s fresh, unabashed attitude. Where she skirted around some of the more hard hitting moments in her self-titled, ultimately thanks to its lighter folk-pop touch, there is no gloss here. There’s quite the difference between “Hey, I’m a sucker for your face, “ as heard in 2012’s “Sucker” and, as you previously mentioned, the line, “take me outside and blow my fucking head off with your eyes,” in “Take Me Outside.”

Kenney’s ability to turn a phrase continues to be why she is such a great songwriter. Along with ‘Take Me Outside,” the album’s opener, “I Faked It” hit me hard. With a muted backing instrumentation, Kenney delivers this song with a matter-of-fact tone that makes it sting. Perfectly set up with a brief pause in the instrumentals, Kenney sings, “I faked it, it was never you and me. When I said it was forever, I was lying through my teeth.” The attitude here is loud and it is thrilling.

As you recall, after first hearing “Telephones” I immediately sent you a Facebook message saying that I couldn’t stop pressing the replay button to which you quoted the song and said, ““You used to make my Mondays Saturdays.” Damn.” I then said, “YES! Absolute pain” and cited the repetition of “our fights have fucked our shelter” as being a good line as well.

Being that it is a cover, Kenney’s delivery of these lines is done with a skill and passion that really allows the song to come alive. Even the fun lyric, “you listen to techno, I hate that stuff” is said with a fervour that highlights the talent vocal flair that Kenney possesses.

Lastly, “Untouchable” feels like something Kenney has never done before and also hits hard. With a slight blues flair, the instrumentals are again slightly subdued with Kenney’s powerful vocals taking the spotlight. It’s not until the latter half the song when a guitar solo erupts which eventually leads to a final big-time rendition of the song’s chorus. Here, the maturation of Kenney is in full-swing and with it an exploration of a fuller sound that’s just as strong as anything we have heard in the past.

From an instrumental arrangement and subsequent genre perspective, Michael how do you feel In My Dreams differs from Kenney’s first record?

Michael: I think my answer to the latter half of your question will lead into the former half. Her self-titled debut could pretty comfortably fit into the folk bracket, with a bit of pop-rock stylings here and there, like the aforementioned “Scene of the Crime” and its fuzzy guitar, or the pure singalong chorus of “Deja Vu” (which remains firmly my favourite song of that record). Whereas In My Dreams branches out so much more (in almost every song, according to my notes) that I will give this genre the most clumsy name ever: wolf-in-pop-rock-sheep’s-clothing.

To elaborate: Mo Kenney’s sound fits comfortably on the docket of sounds do well on CBC Radio 3, but to simply say that would be a major disservice. There’s a sort of experimental side to this album that you won’t hear unless you’re sitting down and paying attention. Take “Field Song” for example, which begins with percussive taps and some strummed guitar chords that make it sound like it could fit into Norah Jones’ catalogue. At about a minute-and-a-half, though, Kenney’s vocals start to echo and new sounds gradually come into the mix. Nothing this psychedelic has been a part of Kenney’s body of work so far (though there’s a hint of psychedelia in “I Faked It” as well).

Or how about the crazy, distorted guitar interlude in “Mountains to the Mess?” It could just be an uptempo pop-rock number but it manages to pack a wallop in its scant 2:30-ish running time. And the song also sees another instrument in Kenney’s arsenal—her voice—take on new dimensions. As she sings “I’m on top of the world/Who put me here?” there’s a very faint hint of strain on her voice, adding to the weary delivery that suggests that maybe, just maybe, being “On top of the world” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Or “Pretty Things,” with all its powerfully-strummed chords that decides to throw in a melodica later on for good measure.

Which is all a very long-winded way of saying that the way this album differs from the previous is that Mo Kenney expands her instrumental arsenal, and her stylistic arsenal, to create an album that shines nearly every minute—but only if you’re paying attention, otherwise it might drift past you like a dream.

As we near the end of this discussion, Laura, what surprised you most about this album? And what do you hope to see in future albums from Mo Kenney?

Laura: While I agree with everything that you are saying re: how genre-wise how this album differs from her last, my initial reaction to your question is that nothing surprised me. In My Dreams features all of the great qualities of Kenney’s debut record (clever songwriting, melodious hooks etc.), plus a new confidence that should come with a second record. This natural progress and maturation is one that feels easy because of Kenney’s strengths as a musician.

Relatedly, looking into the future I hope that Kenney keeps doing what feels natural as it is clear that Mo Kenney’s dreams are well worth exploring.

Laura’s top tracks: “Take me Outside,” “Telephones”

Laura’s rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

Michael’s top tracks: “Telephones,” “Untouchable”

Michael’s rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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Review – “Subourbon” – Ben Everyman

coverreviewed by Michael Thomas

He of the one-word, punny song titles and infinitely memorable lyrics has returned to the owl’s nest once again. Vancouver’s Ben Everyman is consistent in his unpredictably humourous lyrics accompanied with folk-country instrumentation, and Subourbon, his third effort, continues to prove why Everyman is such an endearing character.

With a full band behind him, this may be Everyman’s most country album to date, and that’s not a bad thing, partner. The sweet wail of the pedal steel adds an extra layer of confusion to “2AM Drunk” and an extra layer of intense sunlight to the sprawling “Unquenchable Thirst.”

The album title might be partially inspired by “2AM Drunk,” the album’s opener and first single, and what a fun song it is. Using a rough 12-bar blues structure through rollicking bass and guitar, this barn burner of a song cycles through a night that begins with the narrator being “2AM drunk” at 10 p.m., and as the song progresses and he “catches up,” more bad things start to add up: he has unknown stains on his pants, he can’t get back into the liquor store…and then when 2 a.m. mercifully comes along, everything gets slower.

So suffice to say “2AM Drunk” is a story in an album full of stories. “No Nonsense Nellie” tells the story of a “lavender-scented snake in the grass” of a woman, but the gem of this song comes right at the beginning. Spoken in nearly a monotone, Everyman says “People want to hear some dirty distorted guitars and provocative lyrics and rock they can shake their hips to. I am doing my part to join this movement, if you’re with me, can I get a ‘hell yes?'” It’s this semi-ironic detachment that always gives Everyman’s song a sense of fun.

“Washing Dishes at the Bank,” meanwhile, tells the story of a man who just doesn’t know how to save money as he goes from bank to bank to pre-approved bank.

While plenty of this album’s songs might be called barn burners, Everyman does slow it down a bit. The cheekily titled “(UUDDLRLRBA) Select Start My Heart” is far from the first song to use a video-game analogy to wistfully describe and musically score a romance and reference Mario and The Legend of Zelda, but Everyman deserves points for the line that starts “I’ll drop my coin into your slot…” On a very different side of things, “First World Suicide Note” is a harmonica-driven ballad written like a letter to the spirit of death.

And finally, “Unquenchable Thirst” tells the long tale of a man who has, well, an unquenchable thirst. The slower tempo and pedal steel wail brings forth visions of a hot sun, and listeners will likely feel thirsty as the narrator continues to not be able to get a drink.

Now three albums deep, Everyman has retained his sense of wit (and here’s hoping it never leaves him) while tightening up his music even more (see: the guitar solo in “Blues Moderne). It’s unclear how much higher he can ascend, but suffice to say he’s already near the top.

Top Tracks: “2AM Drunk”; “Blues Moderne”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*

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Review – “Mended With Gold” – Rural Alberta Advantage

reviewed by Eleni Armenakis screen-shot-2014-07-08-at-10-05-38-am

It’s probably worth noting that Rural Alberta Advantage’s 2011 album Departing, with its evocative Prairie imagery and sense of longing, was one of my most-played albums when I lived abroad for a year. I only bring this up to explain why I was both nervous and excited to hear what their latest release, Mended With Gold, would sound like. As much as I welcome experimentation from artists, there’s always a fear that the thing you appreciate from them might disappear with the next evolution.

It’s also in this case an unrealized fear. Without suggesting the band has remained stagnant over the past three years, they’ve stayed relatively close to the mournful crescendos of their previous two releases. Nils Edenloff’s distinct vocals draw immediate attention with his wailing call on opener “Our Love…” and Amy Cole still softens his nasally boom with her far gentler voice while Paul Banwatt creates their trademark crashing on the drums.

There’s also a darker edge to that thanks to Edenloff’s decision to rent a remote cabin near Bruce Peninsula. It’s a typical story for a folk musician, but while retreating to a cabin may be well-trod territory, it’s hard to think of anyone with a similar experience. Rather than basking in the isolation, the experience ended up being a terrifying one. It’s that fear seeping into “To Be Scared” and “45/33” that gives Mended With Gold its unique touch. Even as Edenloff keeps up with his usual themes of love, heartbreak and moving on, they’ve never trembled quite like this.

Maybe that’s why the second half of the album seems to come into its own after embracing that pivotal moment. “Can you love/when your heart turns to dust?” is the new kind of anxiety they’ve found on “45/33.” It’s here, finally, that Banwatt marches on aggressively, capturing fear, panic and pain with an intensity that feels new to the RAA. Things only become more frantic on “All We’ve Ever Known” as Edenloff and Cole pick up on this new, ominous energy while staccato “Vulcan, AB” feels like it should be a nod to their older work given that title, but the similar names only draw attention to the slow divide that’s being created between past and present, and even the first and second halves of the new album.

Where “On The Rocks” finds peaceful resignation, “The Build” can only remain accepting for so long before again soaring to that fevered rhythm. And maybe it’s this new pacing that keeps Mended With Gold from being the same sort of album as Hometowns or Departing, proving that while the band continues to rely on their build up and explosion, they’re still pushing the boundaries of how far they can go with it.

Top Tracks: “45/33”; “Vulcan, AB”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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Review – “WEND” – Rose Brokenshire

Reviewed by Jack Derricourt

Rose Brokenshire, Toronto, folk, indie

Rose Brokenshire, besides having the kind of name that you can build romantic novels set in the British countryside around, can stir you. Her voice, her string plucking, her pauses — it all sets you moving beneath the surface of a fast-moving river, bathing deeply in light and rippled water. She’s stolen the hearts of minds of Grayowl once before this year, and by golly, she’s about to do it again.

The new EP by this Canadian indie folk chanteuse, WEND, is a collection of sparse phrases, as if Brokenshire was hoping to credit the gently passing moments as accompanists on the record. Time is at the forefront of the song material: changing judgments, redemption, closeness and the fading of that same contact. Typical singer-songwriter stuff right? Well, no, actually. Brokenshire uses ghostly vocal layering and dry, full-frontal guitar recordings to displace the listener’s experience of the songs. The approach is too abstract to be purely confessional, and the nature of the artistry betrays the construction of the songs themselves. It makes for deep listening and avoids so many acoustic guitar on a beach clichés.

The opening track “You Are” sounds off like a telegram: “In darker days” STOP “You bring light” STOP. The cradling sonics of the guitar and the single backbeat pulse sway with subtlety. There are deep corners to this track, and it’s a wonderful way to open a collection of ideas up to the listener.

“Heavy Head” opens with inhalation — the kind of sigh that follows realization, short and to the point. The lyrics mention “All these holes we’ve filled,” and the hardship of transformation after such an effort. But while the narrative builds struggles, the sound erects change and distance: dynamic and arrangement twist and turn, growing and developing in little folds and pockets. The song is the riddle and its answer playing simultaneously.

The song sitting comfortably in the single spot is “A New Way Out.” The lyrics list imperatives, at a pace that is insistent compared to the other tracks on Wend. There is a sense of hope, of learned escape and safety, that flourishes in the middle of this song — even if it does cut abruptly off. Naturalist production doesn’t always have to indicate a sinister meaning.

“My Only” flashes with Julie Doiron innocence and finger picking. When I listened to it and closed my eyes, the chorus-drenched lead guitar line ricocheting against the main rhythm part, I could see fire flies dancing in the bow of a tree.

And maybe an hallucination was all this was meant to lead to, this gathering of moments and realizations in time. Brokenshire surrenders her voice to illusions with her five and a half minute farewell, “To My Dreams.” Those sleeping messages can often track our innermost thoughts better than our own analysis. For Brokenshire, those images relate back to the relationships she discusses throughout WEND; but they are shocking now, seen as violent uprisings in the waking world. The music obeys the darkness brought up in these symbols, and the sqawking of the electric guitar is certainly a different landscape of sounds than we began with.

WEND is Brokenshire’s five act play. I couldn’t tell you if it’s comedy or tragedy. There is ambiguity throughout every delicate tune. And while I’m still figuring out the subtext between the healthy gaps, I know one thing: this is a great album that deserves your attention.

Top Tracks: “A New Way Out” , “To My Dreams”

Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + swoop

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