Paul Stewart returns backed by an expansive and even-tempered band. What better time than this oddly warm western winter to look with open eyes toward the summer? Paul is a lyricist at home in the modern world. Previous, more introverted, albums explored the world of antennae and telecommunications with a graceful delicacy. Here again, concrete and traversed distance paints Stewart’s voice with longing. Turn these songs up and let them guide your bus home.
Imagine yourself treading water in a Bermuda triangle of Guided by Voices, Joanna Gruesome and the Pains of Being Pure At Heart. That’s where you’ll find Woolworm, beloved Vancouver pop-shoegaze-punk-hardcore-whatever stalwarts. You swim over as they begin playing “Heathen Too”, the first tune off their latest split with Grown-Ups. You wonder how such frenetic drumming and spirited hooks, played with such reckless abandon, would be of any use in such an absurd situation. Then they turn to you and croon “I would never run from you / honey, I’m a heathen, too.” Suddenly, nothing matters — you’re in this together. You lay back, let the bitter ocean wash over you, and all you want is to listen to Woolworm play forever.
Immediately swooping us into its pastoral gallop, ‘Visitor’ is an instant nostalgic injection. A rabble of breathy violins weave over a bone-dry bed of bass and ticking, spare drums. It’s a heartbreak mixtape side A opener, spooled languidly across a pensive prairie drive through Drag Cities and Dream Rivers. Singer Zuzia Juszkiewicz meets us at each verse with her ethereal creak before ushering us into the refrain, a cool and cascading hook: “I’ve come but I won’t be around for long.” Another trip around the circuit brings us to the bridge, a gorgeous plateau of soaring slide guitar that guides us back into a final refrain which revs and cycles pleasingly before – not even finishing her stanza – Juszkiewicz disappears abruptly. We’re stopped dead on the final syllable. The ride is over.
Pay attention for Vancouver’s Teenagre’s next trip to your town.
Crystal Dorval is back with a full length of LP sure to garner much acclaim. Astral as ever, white poppy stares back at you like Velasquez’ Las Meninas, confusing your selfhood, sifting you through various subjectivities like a dream that lasts much longer than usual. Example: the middle of the album opens out onto a windy indiscernable field of ambiance with ‘Emotional Intelligence’, only to draw you back in ‘Without Answers’ to the Grouper-meets-Cyndi Lauper pop hazes we have come to expect from Crystal Dorval. The song titles testify to this journey through the liminal territories of consciousness. It is a worthy companion to last summer’s much lauded Drifter’s Gold. Cop it.
I love Nicholas Krgovich. Collaborator with human icon Phil Elvrum, a member of the soft pop icons P:ano, and a talented producer. Everything I’ve ever heard by Mr. Krgovich has pleased me deeply. Who Cares? does not disappoint. It is whispered over creaky classical guitars with a gentle low end cha-cha-ing into your wakefulness. Put it on. This record comes out tomorrow. Order a copy and invite someone over to make out with you.