Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reviews:: The Grand Archives

When The Grand Archives put out their 4 song demo last year, everyone jumped all over it (myself included). The fact that Mat Brooke was a one time member of Band of Horses helped, but for me it was the fact he was a part of the all too underrated Carissa's Wierd. Now, I'm not going to type out a wiki entry about the greatness of the band - Charles over at Heartache with Hardwork already did - but you should know they were a fantastic band.

The Grand Archives demos showed an insane amount of potential, so we all waited on baited breath for the official release on Subpop. Well, Feb. 19th is fast approaching and the self-titled LP more than delivers. The band really made a smart decision by opening with Torn Blue Foam Couch. Even in demo form, the song is a soaring anthem with a terrific energy and harmonies, but at points the new version is simply breath taking and shows that the time the took to flesh out the songs was well worth it. The shocking horns that grab your ear, the pleasant piano in the distanceā€¦ all of the elements work.

Then the band switches pace with the beautiful, orchestral Miniature Birds. Dueling horns, addictive whistling and a nice strummed acoustic drive this song into your cerebral cortex and quickly cement the fact this band is more than four great songs. That should be obvious, as Subpop isn't in the habit of signing bands that have only written writing four songs and putting them on a CD-R, but this record really hammers home the point. Over the course of the 11-song LP, Brooke and his band use ballads, anthems, alt-country, folk, dub (on the nice instrumental Breezy No Breezy) and pop to keep the album moving forward.

The rough edge of the demos was terrific, but the polished sounds and diverse instrumentation really help this band stand out. In a time where people think overwhelming the listener with layer after layer, The Grand Archives manage to add just the right amount at just the right time. The songs maintain a desolate, open feel with sounds creeping in and out nicely. The new version of George Kaminsky adds piano, steal, chimes/triangle and harmonica but the song is actually incredibly spare.

The thing that really grabbed my attention after several listens is the oddly named Louis Riel. For all you non-Canadians out there, Riel is one of Canada's favorite martyrs and he is considered the father of Manitoba (which up to now, you might have thought was Jon K. Samson). In a twist of irony, The Grand Archives created one of their most summery sing-alongs in his name and if you didn't know the back story, you'd probably not even think twice when the song ends with the beautiful refrainā€¦ hanging all alone. Note: He was hanged for his part in leading the Northwest Rebellion.

The funny thing is, I looked for a pic of Riel to include, and when I found a nice one I noticed he looked like almost every guy I see at shows these days. One quick google search of annoying facial hair and the results speak for themselves:


[MP3]:: Torn Foam Blue Couch

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Posted at 2:08 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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