Friday, August 3, 2007

Reviews:: Amos the Transparent Everything I've Forgotten to Forget

Sometimes you stumble upon a band that you wish you could tell people you found (note: this only really applies to uber nerdy blogger types) and start championing their rise to the top. For me, this band would be Amos the Transparent. Alas, as is the case with almost every fantastic Canadian band, I first caught wind of this Ottawa duo on the pages of I Heart Music. Irregardless, after getting a copy of their new album, Everything I've Forgotten to Forget, I am cementing myself in their fan club.

The duo, consisting of song writer Jonathan Chandler and drummer Christopher Wilson, has delivered a collection of wiry, folk / indie pop that sways and swells with amazing precision. The record, written over the course of a few years by Chandler and Wilson, was recorded in true collective fashion but there is one major difference from the traditional definition. Amos the Transparent is really the vision of two people, and they employ friends to realize that vision. The songs are tight, the arrangements crisp and succinct. In most cases, too many cooks spoil the broth and too many guitars spoil the sounds. Huge crescendos are all well and good, but endless meandering that is all too common in today's indie scene is another thing. AtT never wastes a note.

The record starts with the soaring Title Track. Five minutes might be considered too long for an opener, but as Chandler sings over an acoustic and percussion the core of the song is defined early. Horns, claps and rapid fire bass fade in an out of the track. The vocals follow the same delivery as Sean Lennon's Friendly Fire, but Chandler sings with the emotion Lennon lacked and it almost runs you over. The slow build that explodes out of the speakers on the last 1:45 fit perfectly and by the time the track fades to black with the help of the horns, you need to take a breath.

Understanding the impact of the opening number, the duo slows the pace with the beautiful folk melody of She Wasn't Lying. Jonathan's shares the vocal duties with Ana Miura and they mesh perfectly. The light ditty floats along and warms your heart but it never feels like a simple song. The arrangement adds chimes and textures at the perfect moments. The soft tones continue on the intro of My Fear of Animals, but quickly the band adds fuzzed guitars and pounding drums and the peaks and valley make this 3-minute song seem like an eight-minute epic, but without wasted minutes of self-indulgence.

How good is this record? How about the fact I'm 250 words into the review and haven't mentioned the song that will surely grab the band some attention. After All That, It's Come to This is an amazing song that features Amy Milan on vocals. The most amazing aspect of this song is not her presence, it's the duality of the song. The truncated guitar riff and percussion (the rim clack of the drum gets me every time) form stopping points for the trading vocals, and make the swell of the chorus seem that much more powerful. The crunchy riff adds the punch when Jonathon and Amy sing "when you going to feel the need to resist" and the arrangement gives the song a significance and sincerity that so many bands try for and fall short.

How good is this record? Well, after a soaring, yet somewhat intimate duet with one of the icons of the Canadian scene, Amos the Transparent comes back with an even stronger song. Hard Times Simply Come By uses double tracked vocals and a peddle steel on a crying in your beer, those were better times lament. The steel work and simple strummed acoustic let Chandler search his soul, not knowing what he'll find and his story telling makes you sit still and listen.

How I Failed as an Architect is the first signs of Chandler's influences (although for only 30 seconds), as his vocal delivery drifts into the Elliott Smith realm, but he supplements the isolation and depression you'd expect to follow by harmonizing with Ana Miura again on (Here's to) New Beginnings - a surprisingly warm and optimistic track rich in piano and hand claps. The "trademark" Canadian guitar build fits nicely with the piano line and blends into a swirling ooh and ah outro. You have to appreciate how well the record is sequenced, as they control your moods and energy perfectly. It plays like a well written book that you can't put down and you are 8-songs in before you have a chance to look up.

I feel like I've already written too much, probably because I can't write enough to accurately describe this record. Each song is worth listening to and makes you lean towards the << button. They hit you with soaring epics, but balance those emotions with accessible, easy folk pop numbers like I Knew I Shouldn't Have Held My Breath. The overly modest title, Ok, Ok, Fine, Okay is another wrinkle for the duo - a straight forward indie rock song that most bands would love to have floating as the lead song on their record (not the 11th song) and by the closing notes of I'm On Trial, you are left emotional exhausted, and completely impressed by the band.

I guess I can just say that despite all the great music I've heard from Canadian (and international) artists, I haven't embraced a record as quickly and easily as Everything I've Forgotten To Forget. I hope enough people hear the record to get Amos the Transparent the recognition they deserve. Quite honestly, there is going to have to be a rush of amazing records to bump this from my year-end list.
MP3:: Title Track

web site :: myspace

Posted at 12:24 PM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

MP3 Link is dead.


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