Jesse & the Dandelions – Time and Space and Everything In Between

The new EP from Lethbridge’s Jesse & the Dandelions is thick with the kind of college radio hits you would expect to hear at the turn of the millenium. Each track is a solid gem purloined from the sonic loins of forefathers like John K. Samson, David Bazan, and Ben Gibbard. Time and Space and Everything In Between gets better and better as it glides on, culminating in the slow cooker ‘Stealing Moonbeams’ and the irresistible hook of closer ‘The Fire’. Come soak in the dandelion hue of Northey’s heart throbbers tonight at the Elevation Room with Jessica Jalbert and Doug Hoyer. Jesse & the Dandelions were on the Swig of Alberta tour last winter and, seeing them play three nights in a row, I can testify to to just how much their live show grows on a listener. Enjoy:

The Utilities – Flint

The Utilities may be the most exciting young band in Alberta. Over two weeks ago, at Swig of Alberta, their producer, Jesse Northey, put the full length record in my hand. A day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t imbibed The Utilities in the most utilitarian fashion. Where do I begin? The youthful Joel Stretch is already a fluent songwriter, capable of tip toeing the line between folk rock and 90’s indie with inimitable ease. Flint catwalks from one composition to another, sensibly weaved by Northey’s production and cohesively bound by Stretch’s unique voice. Argue Job contributor Jammingcues has already given a glowing review to the first two singles a few weeks ago so I will keep my words few and just strongly recommend our readers buy this record. Also, come see The Utilities play live in Edmonton with Alice Kos and Amy van Keeken at The Elevation Room on May 4th!

The Utilities – Flint (preview)

From the Esper Records goldmine in Lethbridge, Alta, comes The Utilities, and what a fitting name it is, too. It gives the impression of something humble, of bare minimalism, of rejecting extravagance. These two songs are a preview of an upcoming album, and I look forward to it eagerly. On “Your Complex”, the vocal timbre brings me back to Band of Horses and their endearing near-Southern, near-whining quality. And what seems like a standard acoustic pattern gives way to a spoken word breakdown that–like Sonic Youth–can’t help but catch one’s attention in its discomforting directness. On “June 30 2011”, the band gives way to a celebration of 90’s indie rock, not completely dissimilar to the likes of Shotgun Jimmie. If these two tracks are any indication, then we’re in for a treat when this thing drops in April. Mark your calendars, folks.

The Record Holder – To Sea EP

The relatively small Southern Alberta metro of Lethbridge is known best for a secret society of very noisy cutting edge pop rock but recently, thanks to the hard work of Jesse Northey and his upstart recording company, Esper Records, the town’s been pumping out some noteworthy folk and pop of the more subdued variety. The Record Holder’s new EP is one of such variety. It comes out the gate with a rosy hook machine titled Dear Medea, highlighting the cruelty of women in greek classicism. From there the record takes a turn for a soft hued folk infused with lap steel and “speak ‘n sing” style lyricism. Though “Dear Medea” initially demands the lion’s share of attention, repeated listens give the cake to “Morning Gloom” and “To Sea,” folk songs that go down as smooth and sweet as a folk song, layered in gently recorded intricacies and mixed for generous consumption. It must also be said that lyrically, this band avoids several pitfalls that plague most folk artist’s debut recordings. The content remains interesting and thought provoking, clearly penned by an intelligent individual. The down home vocal style is also deliciously up front and uncloaked in reverb, inadequacies left to be endearing and vulnerable. Enjoy!

Jesse Northey and Doug Hoyer – Signs of Life (single)

A union of minds is a common thing for those of us raised online, but a physical collaboration between artists across such expansive geographies as ours can be a rare thing. Thus, I think it fair to regard this gem, a lonely single without a format, something of a miracle. One of the liveliest movers and shakers in Lethbridge, one Jesse Northey of Jesse and the Dandelions, became acquainted with Edmonton’s favourite iPod/ukelele crooner Doug Hoyer. The pair of pop savantes decided to set a date, meet in Lethbridge, and write and record something over a long weekend. The result is this haunting post-ballad. Although the song deploys the well-worn imagery of a heart beat/ vital signs/ etc, the track manages to capture some kind of elusive magic in its combination of synth beds, James Bond guitar lines, and acoustic guitar strumming in the chorus swells. The talent of each voice balances to a perfect equilibrium, delivering a humble and sustaining aura, and the utterance of the last spoken line is as addictive as anything ever put to mp3.