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.
With only one EP to their name, Scenic Route To Alaska have made an indelible impression on the Albertan scene, even playing the Edmonton Folk Fest. Their long awaited debut long player, All These Years, is ripe with the infectious and soul stirring folk pop we’ve come to love and expect from this passionate trio. The single, ‘Settle Down’, clearly stands out on the first listen, but repeated attention has drawn me more and more towards ‘Sidewalk Chalk’, ‘Losing You’, and ‘All These Years’. All in all, the record is an extremely cohesive collection of hits that could simultaneously fit into a set on community radio or big radio all the same. Somehow SRTA churns their inner complexities of alternate tunings, advanced bass writing, and complicated drum patterns into a butter that is deceivingly simple and catchy. These boys really are the hip, sensible, hometown boys who’ve somehow evolved into a burdock on the pant leg of the mainstream. If you missed their CD release on June 1st or didn’t get tickets in time, there are still tickets left for their all ages release on June 15th. Grab’em here.
It’s been a while since we’ve blogged about a chill wave artist. Western Walk is out of Toronto. Future, Mirror is a glazed haze of tripped out smears and early rap influence that culminates in peace imbued wave functions for the whole and for the win. Take a deep breath and vibe. The Argue Job fave is dittie four, ‘Reel’.
The Group Sound are kickin’ it with their new release, “Secret Girlfriend”. Everybody loves surfy, sorta garagey, boy-girl retro songs, right? I know my girlfriend loved dancing in the kitchen to these Group Sound jams. Oh yeah, me too. Personally, I think that the band hits their stride half way through the record, from ballad Soul Cries Out to spacey instrumental A.M. Radio, to the beautifully epic mellotron heavy closer Laurie. My main only complaint is that Jessica’s vocals are quite sparse, or low in the mix, while in the past when I’ve seen them live that boy-girl balance is utterly endearing. Apparently, they’ll be in Edmonton around August 2nd, so cheers to that!
Now, I realize that I, Doug Hoyer, am guest posting on Argue Job for the rest of the week. And I realize that it’s a bit lame to be posting my own record, but so it goes! This album has been in the cooker for well over 2 years, and I’m so proud that it’s finally seeing the light of day. It was recorded with Calvin McElroy (Gobble Gobble, Kuhrye-oo), that sage mage, along with the help of many many friends. I really hope that you all enjoy it.
PS: Mr. Argue Job would be posting about it anyways, I know I know I know.