Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Reviews:: Young Galaxy

After happily reading about Arts & Crafts decision to release the Stars record and preempt the lechers, I started thinking about the stable of successful artists the label has harnessed. I mean, if you look at their roster, you are left waiting for their first band signing. That being said, one band I thought I had posted on (but hadn’t, despite the fact this record was played a lot during my work trip to Paris) really stands out in my mind.

That band is Young Galaxy. Their self-titled debut stands apart from the other artists on the great label for many reasons:

  • The boy/girl vocals of Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless rely less on energy and more on subtle, dark tones

  • The swirling, atmospheric guitar work and organ textures are a marked departure from what you’d expect from the former Stars touring guitarist

  • The record unveils a lot of ambition and the band really seems focused on establishing their own sound –both on their label and in the Canadian indie scene

You only have to listen to the first song – Swing Your Heartache – to hear the differences. It is much more 90’s than 80’s. The organ heavy melody adds drums and strings to set an ominous tone as the duo trade melancholic vocal lines, but they never let the depression sink in. There is an uplifting undercurrent throughout the whole song that keeps you going. The textures are never obvious; a horn that blends into the wash or a choral harmony that competes with the buzzing background noise that ends the track.

The band seems happy to move at the speed of life, as opposed to the speed of light. The guitars riffs don’t crunch, they creep, morphing to fill whatever space is available. Starting slowly, they continue to build, often overlapping with each other, creating a haze that clears just in time for vocals rich in realism. “Love is a battle.” It is a statement that we all acknowledge (and sadly accept) in our day-to-day life.

The most immediate track on the record is also the most expansive. Wailing Wall starts with nothing more than an acoustic backbone, drums and some electric noodles, but as the track evolves you are hit with understated harmonies. The lyrics could easily have been stripped from a 90’s Brit band, and they compliment the patient build up that never actually peaks. Instead, the song comes to a crashing halt, leaving you exhausted. You might remember that I mentioned the Arcade Fire set at Sasquatch never let you recover from the constant buildup of energy, and became too frantic for my tastes. Young Galaxy gives you the time you need to catch your breath, following Wailing Wall with the reflective The Sun's Coming Up And My Plane's Going Down. It is the type of song you’d play after a long night out as you drive home accompanied by the morning’s first light.

The only stumble the band has is the change of pace rocker, Searchlight. After establishing a tone, the rocker stands out by not standing out at all. It’s the type of song you hear a lot, but considering this is a debut record, calling a song that other good indie bands would be happy to write the weak point says a lot. Especially when it is followed up with the bouncy, reverb heavy Lost in the Call and the Beach Boy laced vocals of Come and See.

MP3:: The Sun’s Coming Up And My Plane’s Going Down

Besnard Lakes and Young Galaxy are at Richard's on September 27th

web site :: myspace :: label :: more mp3s

Posted at 6:01 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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