To the attuned listener, Samantha Savage Smith’s songs will conjure a picture of sureness amid chaos, of stability within motion. They’re stones skittering across the pond, rocketing but rocks nonetheless, and ones sure of their course. When the Twin Reverb spires of guitar moan and the snare cracks, she conducts always and with confidence, less than an inch from the microphone. Examples of this competence – this intricate skill – crop up with uncanny frequency as Fine Lines, the singer’s second full length, whirls past.
The title track is sonic hopscotch, pure and easy. The drum pattern – that drum pattern – runs along like the bratty, insistent counterpoint chant to Smith’s skipping, daggering melody. That control she’s capable of maintaining in the swirl of instrumentation is doubly present here, weaving a needlepoint melody over and through the fabric of the tune.
The best execution of this ability, however, lands with ‘Til We Are Found. It’s a cosmic prom anthem. Propelled by affectionately strummed eighth notes and a pocketful-of-change-tambourine, its melody is the stoic face that masks a hammering heart. Stillness and motion.
This collection crests with the undeniable Habit Forming. Here Savage Smith finds an almost uncharacteristically tender nook of her timbre and, for a perfect three minutes, coos a lament that could and should easily transcend the barrier between a Calgary basement and primetime placement – an increasingly fine line when we’re messing with a talent of this stature.
Heart Failure Research Unit, as a name, may sound cryptically connected to hospitals and healthcare. But as Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes will clarify, HFRU is brave exploration of folk and rock — tied together with bold lyrics of a troubadour. Headed by Calgary’s Dustin Anderson, HFRU pumps its way through up beat ballads and slow psych numbers. Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes offers wild recordings, supported by weary folk wanderings. The contrast between the album’s songs is mesmerizing. While offering clear insight into the end of love, HFRU tosses its emphasize from rhythm to ramblings, all while trying to reason with real emotion. As you are warmed and frozen by Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes, you will see that you are in delicate care — the intricacies of folk music are masterfully handled by Heart Failure Research Unit.
Calgary strikes again, this time with guerilla tactics. Viet Cong is the depraved melodic goth punk your day needed. Witness the napalm dodging bowie-esque swing of “Oxygen Feed.” Drink in the agent orange of “Static Wall” and enjoy the auditory fever high you’ve been waiting for. Not surprised to see that Scott Munro aka Monty had a part in freezing these songs in the eternity of recorded music (when looking for the cool, I look for Monty). Get your cool on with Viet Cong—and remember: they’re the winners!
The dourest of pop is crooning from the Faux Fur fellers we covered a few days back. This side project is called UN BLONDE and delivers in spades on the cultish aesthetic, the songs oscillating between levitating cants and raucous melodics. In the final analysis, this record is too fun and too disinterested (cool) to be at all spooky, rendering the pentagram and weightless banshees more of a chuckling esoteric curiosity than any kind of harbinger for UN BLONDE’s content. “Keep your fingers crossed to find god,” says “FAITH,” the juiciest single on the record. Dig it six feet deep, homelife.
Much like yesterday’s post, Lab Coast is a band from Calgary.. with a record out on Mammoth Cave.. and with Chris Dadge dadging! Ha! And this band is equally hype, but with a longer tenure and a stellar discography. These shoegaze pop masters are for fans of sugarcube era Yo La Tengo. They drift in and out of the body, sonically noodle with tasteful discretion, and make it sound way too easy. It really is like Walking on Ayr, whatever you want that to mean. Whatever’s the case, they have hit it again. All their records are outstanding and this one is a cut above. It’s a must for your 2013 catalogue: cop it. And catch them tonight at Wunderbar with Diamond Mind (Liam Trimble’s new project), and Savk!