Reviews:: Jason Collett Here's to Being Here

There are two ways to leave a lasting mark in music. The first is write songs the way that people think about music, so different from what people are used to hearing that you can't help but sit up and take notice. The second is to craft songs rich in nostalgia and influences that you trigger memories of days gone past in an almost Pavlovian response.

Which is better? Well I guess that depends on if you are a collector, a critic or a fan. It's the age old argument of creativity versus popularity. On a Friday night, would you throw on a song from Paranoid Android or just press play on Fake Plastic Trees?

Jason Collett is one of the few artists with the potential to appeal to the critic and the fan. While working as a member of Broken Social Scene, he and his friends have really changed the way people looks at Canadian indie rock. Although it's pretty common now, BSS was really the first big Canadian collective that gained any mainstream attention. The way they mixed styles and influences into a melodic, distorted groove was unprecedented.

That being said, he also displays a strong love of radio-esque pop music that can be digested easily by the masses. As a solo artist, Collett seems to be more inspired from artists whose complete catalogs are celebrated in CD bins, AM radio and juke boxes in dive bars all over the world. He is happy finding a home with fans who flip through record crates at yard sales hoping to score classic vinyl for 40 cents.

Collett has a great understanding of what music meant back in the day, and his songs expose a lot of the better elements from the 60s and 70s, but he also adds just enough modern touches to help the songs sparkle. The contrast of the atmospheric undercurrent that pulses behind the electric work and metronome percussion on the album opener Roll On Oblivion ensure that this isn't just a refurbished time capsule.

Cynics could point of that at times his vocals seem to mimic Dylan (the nasally draw he reverts to at times like on Papercut Hearts - which is a shame because his voice is much stronger) or the obvious nods to bands like the Stones (Out of Time) and the Band, but it's hard to play this type of music without sampling from the greats. Collett is comfortable tipping his cap to the people that helped make pop music what it is, but make no mistake, he is not parroting. His songs are his own, he's just enamored with another generation; the imagery, the sonic palette and the lifestyle.

There was a camaraderie that existed when bands played festivals and spent hours on the bus. Late night jams, guest sessions in exotic recording locations. The ideas that were passed back and forth kept pushing music forward and Collett seems determined to follow suit. Whether it's the session feel he harnesses on the hand clap/latin fueled collabo with fellow BSS member Andrew Whiteman (Charlyn, Angel of Kensington) or the back porch feel of the banjo laced No Redemption Song conjures out life on the road, driving along the 401 playing shows and getting high, Collett enjoys daydreaming of another time. While this might not be all a very progressive notion, Collett's makes you believe in the words and sounds he's creating.

At the end of the day, the album floats by in an constant flood of enjoyable sounds. No, he's not breaking much new ground and judging this album as a future classic would be overselling it, but he's written some songs that will stand the test of time and old fashioned collectors would love to find trapped among a pile of yard sale 45s. And I think if you asked Jason, that's exactly what he wants to do as a solo artist.

[MP3]:: Out of Time
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