With climate change you gotta wonder if there some Laurel Canyons blooming with succulents and bougainvillea up there in the formerly great whit north. For record number two Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Monomyth swap out their rhythm section, keep the psychedelic pop hooks and come up sporting their best paisley. The songwriting duo of Seamus Dalton and Josh Saltzer continue to split the vocal duties and their admiration of local heroes like Sloan, Superfriendz and Thrush Hermit while adding from Teenage Fanclub harmonies and the erudite pop sensibilities of the Weather Prophets.
Happy Pop Family is a wonderful tour de force and one of the best pure pop records of the year. The cool and beautiful Palpitations features a pristine melody interrupted by grungy heart attack chords. Aloha with its airy Teenage Fanclub harmony that kicks off the record isn’t even the best song here. That honor goes to the infinitely catchy Re:lease life (Place 2 Go) which plays like a travel log and has an off the cuff feel to it that reminds me of the Go-Betweens’ Darlinghurst Nights. Did I overdo it there? No, it’s that good!
The Laurels out of Halifax contain members from Monomyth and Moon. That doesn’t really help though. They sound a bit like the 90’s noisy indiepop of the Swirlies and the Lilys. Not surprising since they admit to being ispired by that scene along with Beach Boys,Byrds and C-86. Their self-titled bandcamp album has elements of all of the above as well as a sublime ode to Joao Gilberto thrown in for good measure. Crazy that bands this good are just giving away their music!
When you think of bands from Halifax, Nova Scotia, if you don’t draw a blank, then you probably think of the 90’s grunge era bands like Sloan, Superfriendz and Thrush Hermit. You probably don’t think of jangly neo-psychedelic music and you most certainly wouldn’t think of bands like the Church, the Dylans, the Dentists, the Sneetches or Ultra Vivid Scene. Well, Monomyth are here to re-put Halifax on the map and change any previous ideas about what goes on up in the Canadian Maritime provinces.
The band have just released their debut album Saturnalia Regalia! on Mint records. It’s an accomplished record with great some great song featuring lush harmonies. The band features three songwriters in Seamus Dalton, Josh Salter, and Graeme Stewart, but they have a similar aesthetic and high quality which keeps the album engaging and interesting. Since this record arrived in the mail last week it’s been on constant rotation. Its bright songs and nods to obscure psychedelic bands without sounding too obvious make this one a keeper.
Edmonton, Alberta’s Tee-Tahs are full of glammy, lo-fi goodness and a few other things. Their debut album comes as download or on cassette if you can catch them live. Their songs are basic, catchy and full of attitude, irreverance and humor. With a song called Slutfucker and another one about “kicking cans and breaking stuff, fucking guys in parking lots” Tee-Tahs seem to be kindred spirits with Seattle’s Childbirth. Both bands have loads of attitude and a knack for being frank, funny and in your face when singing about about sex from the female perspective.
Tee-Tahs take a more poppy, post-punk approach to their songs though. You can hear the Undertones (Fun Forever could be new the Teenage Kicks), some Wire and maybe even some Devo, making these songs get under your skin quickly. And they come quickly too, nary a one longer than two minutes. You’re sure to find yourself with whiplash as surefire hits like Rat Babe, Fun Forever, Okee Dokee and Slutfucker come in swift succession.
The Courtneys are from Vancouver, BC and currently making their way down the west coast of North America in support of their self-titled debut album. It’s snotty, adolescent fun that reminds me of Tuscadero, Tacocat and Bratmobile. The record is full of super melodic and slightly shambolic songs. Sure some of the rhymes are obvious and the topics daft (90210, Keanu Reeves) but their enthusiasm and innate ability to deliver pop hooks make it easy to overlook a few shortcomings from this promising young band.
The Courtneys play Seattle tonight at Heartland along with Chastity Belt, Bingo and Mega Bog.
stream: The Courtneys – Delivery Boy
The initial pressing of their album is sold or from their label Hockey Dad Records, but you can still get a copy from Revolver. A second pressing is in the works.
Catch the Courtneys in California:
Jun 26 – The Knockout, San Francisco, CA
Jun 27 – Hemlock Tavern, San Francisco, CA
Jun 29 – Pehrspace, Los Angeles, CA
The cover of Indian Wars‘ second album Songs from the North features a wooden duck on a bed of wilting parsley set amid some fine silverware. On the back cover there is a photo of a garage with a photo of Dylan on the door and a torch stake with a doll’s dismembered head and foot attached to it. I know why Dylan is on the door, but what does the wooden duck mean and why is there a dismembered baby doll on a torch? Either it is some great symbolism or an inside joke. There isn’t a lame duck among the 10 songs on the record. They are rollicking, familiar, and engaging “songs from the south sung from a Northerner’s point of view.”
The second album from this Vancouver, British Columbia band sees them pining for the land south of the border. It drips with American place names and sounds. It wants to sail the muddy waters of the Mississippi and wander the deserts high on Mescaline, and walk through swinging doors knock some back and get into brawls. And it does all of that! Songs from the North improves on Indian Wars debut with better songs, better fidelity and more even pacing. Indian Wars walk the walk and talk the talk, even if the walk and talk are ones you may have heard before. It’s a worthwhile record whether you are floating down the Mississippi, lost in the desert or just in your local bar.
Sleuth‘s cassette Brave Knew Nothing has been available for nearly a year, but I just found out about it about a week ago. A quick search through my RSS reader shows that they’ve mostly avoided detection up to now save for an appearance on a Cloudberry fanzine CD. The sharp detectives in charge of the NY Popfest have been on their trail as well and the band will be appearing at this year’s Popfest scheduled May 17 – 20.
How has this excellent Vancouver, BC band and their wonderful EP gone mostly unnoticed for nearly a year? Dunno. Each one of the six songs on the EP is a winner. Sleuth singer and guitarist who goes by The Lion In Love has a lion of voice that propels their songs beyond so much of today’s run of the mill indiepop. If you were fan of the Long Blondes, remember Sleeper or dig Standard Fare, then Sleuth are well worth investigating further. mp3: Sleuth – Unceremonious Splendor (from Brave Knew Nothing available at their bandcamp)