Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reviews:: Wintersleep - Welcome To The Night Sky

Wintersleep has been one of the bigger names to come out the Halifax scene in the last few years. While I certainly enjoyed a lot of the work they did on their two previous untitled albums, I don't think they blew me away. Well, after spending time with their latest, and first titled, album, Welcome To The Night Sky, you might as well give me a bad fake Irish accent and cast me opposite Jeff Bridges, because I am indeed blown away this time.

Recorded in Halifax at Sonic Temple studios by Tony Doogan, it was mixed in Glasgow at Castle Of Doom Studios, which, I have to say, is a rather excellent name for a studio. I don't know if it's the UK influence, but Paul Murphy's vocals have more of a lilting, deliberate quality than I remember from the band's previous work. But I think it's a good match for the album's vivid tales of astronauts and excavating whale bones. You always have the feeling that Murphy is holding back, and that creates a tension that takes the songs up a couple notches.

More often then not, when the songs need to be turned loose, the band does heavy lifting. The consistent drumming and fuzzy guitars of Drunk On Aluminum build steadily until breaking into a full shoegazey gallop and then stopping completely. A brief guitar flurry feels like a whole new song before things get quiet again and Murphy finishes the song off. It's quite a ride to open the album. Archaeologists continues that ride with a bouncy bassline and some floaty ambient vocal ad-libs which provide an unstoppably toe-tapping backdrop for a tale about the remains of a winged boy being found in the belly of a whale. It could be some kind of religious metaphor, but honestly I have no idea. I do know it's the first time I couldn't get the lyrics "belly of a whale, belly of a whale, belly of a whale" out of my head.

I think most people will agree the album's centerpiece is Weighty Ghost, which is clearly the catchiest song about losing one's identity I've ever heard. Organ, strummed guitar, handclaps, and community backing vocals are not only a break from the band's heavy, electric sound, but it's also the perfect recipe for a sing-along inducing crowd pleaser at future Wintersleep shows. The catchy, more straight-forward rockers Oblivion and Laser Beams build up to the epic album finale Miasmal Smoke & The Yellow Bellied Freaks. Ordinarily I might tend to regard an eight minute plus song with such an obscure title as a little self-indulgent, but it works here.

The melodic choruses on Welcome To The Night Sky probably make it more accessible to the average listener, but I doubt their longtime fans will have any issue with that. For me, I just think it's a great album, 10 varied, and excellent songs that I've listened many times already and I'm not tired of it at all. Check it out for yourself.

MP3:: Wintersleep - Drunk On Aluminum

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Catch them out west this week (big show Friday at Ack's favorite spot, Dick's On Dicks) and across the country as they make their way back to Halifax for a grand finale at the Cunard Centre at the end of the month:

27 Oct 2007 20:00 Atha B (Athabasca Hotel) Jasper, Alberta
28 Oct 2007 20:00 The Starlite Room Edmonton, Alberta
30 Oct 2007 20:00 Blue Gator Kelowna, British Columbia
2 Nov 2007 19:00 Richard's On Richards Vancouver, British Columbia
3 Nov 2007 21:00 Sugar Nightclub Victoria, British Columbia
5 Nov 2007 20:00 Grande Prairie, Alberta
6 Nov 2007 20:00 The Warehouse Calgary, Alberta
7 Nov 2007 21:00 Amigos Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
10 Nov 2007 20:00 Kilroy's Thunder Bay, Ontario
12 Nov 2007 20:00 Foundation Barrie, Ontario
13 Nov 2007 21:00 Club Vinyl Guelph, Ontario
14 Nov 2007 20:00 Starlight Room Waterloo, Ontario
15 Nov 2007 20:00 Call the Office London, Ontario
16 Nov 2007 20:00 The Mod Club Toronto, Ontario
17 Nov 2007 20:30 Club Lambi Montreal, Quebec
21 Nov 2007 20:00 UNB SUB Cafeteria Fredericton, New Brunswick
22 Nov 2007 21:00 Oxygen Moncton, New Brunswick
23 Nov 2007 20:00 Delta St. John's Ballroom St. John's, NL
24 Nov 2007 20:00 Cunard Centre Halifax, Nova Scotia

Posted at 9:03 AM by naedoo :: 2 comments

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At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

Finally! I can't believe that people haven't really haven't been posting about this album, or Wintersleep in general, before now. It's about time! Excellent review, I think you summed up the album perfectly.

-Alie

 

At 10:15 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

Thanks kindly, I am a huge fan of this album, and I think that came across in the review.

This review has been getting steady traffic since it went up, so you aren't alone!

 

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