Thursday, July 5, 2007

Reviews:: Miracle Fortress Five Roses

In the upcoming weeks you are going to see a noticeable shift in our content. While we (me) will still tackle the best of the indie/folk worlds and dabble in the up and coming hip hop acts (Shane), we are going to really try to showcase more Canadian bands. One of the reasons we keep this blog going is to find new music. Our favorite posts are those concerning bands that haven’t been blogged to death. The reasons:
  • People have already read everything by the time they stumble onto herohill and it’s more fun to have a chance to express fresh opinions
  • Canada is producing some great music and I’m not just talking about the solo projects from the BSS or the Arcade Fire
One such Canadian band is Miracle Fortress. Miracle Fortress is actually the brainchild of Graham Van Pelt of Think About Life (although the four-piece includes some noted musicians - Adam Waito (Telefauna), Jessie Stein (SS Cardiacs), and Jordan Robson-Cramer (Sunset Rubdown)), and it’s a beautiful combination of warm, swirling guitars, synths and Brian Wilson harmonies. Although the songs are free to roam I actually find them incredibly tight. It’s that control that really acts as the sides of his canvas. He establishes borders, but has no problem painting all over it with sweeping, free, broad strokes.

The album jumps into a full stride with Whirrs. In only two-minutes Graham is able to grab a hold of you with warm guitars, grinding synths, drums, and understated, soothing oohs and aahs, but it’s the second track on the record where you really appreciate how fantastic this project really is. Have You Seen in Your Dreams (which is very accurately named, as it pushes you into that dream like haze) is a perfect combination of guitars and distortion that chug along with the help of Graham’s vocal lines. It is comforting and somehow reassuring and when the crystal clear harmonies explode into your ears, you can’t help but smile.

Next Train, vocally, reminds me of the simple yet elegant harmonies Rogue Wave creates over the sparsest of sounds. Simple snaps and an acoustic riff are all that is needed for this track. Sure they add a gentle crescendo during the second half of the song that you keep expecting to explode like a horse when the reigns are loosened, but Graham maintains control of the song with a gentle pull and the various instruments and textures just heighten the anticipation. You can tell the band is influenced by the shoegazing outfits that were so popular in the 90’s, but instead of hitting you with a constant influx of heavy textures, they prefer to warm their sound with subtlety.

The wash that starts Beach Baby instantly transports you to the ocean, and the floating melody blows over you like a gentle breeze while you lie on the beach. The minimalism of the song matches the emotion it evokes perfectly and if at any point on this record you wanted to point out how Van Pelt is one of the only artists worthy of the inevitable Beach Boys comparison he will receive, it would have to be here. That vibe continues on the lush Little Trees and the spontaneous change into a foot stomping, tambourine clapping bridge is captivating.

The band doesn’t allow itself to get stuck in one riff, one sound. Tracks like Poetaster drift effortlessly into the straight ahead pop realm. The gentle traces of steel drum sounds that creep into the channels triggers an old Jane Says flashback (this is said without any sarcasm).

I’ve ignored this record way too long, and have a feeling it will be one I play to death and for that reason alone it’s a perfect showcase for the Canadian scene.
MP3:: Have You Seen in Your Dreams

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Posted at 1:13 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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