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Friday, March 28, 2008

Reviews:: Whitsundays

Sometimes I wish I could simply travel back in time to when I didn't have to try to listen to everything in some sort of faux critical nature. It would be easier to just say, "I like this record" and let it play without trying to throw together a few words to defend my position. If that were the case, I would just tell someone I like The Whitsundays, pass them a high-speed dubbed copy of the cassette and go back to the mall to look for another Ocean Pacific t-shirt.

But instead, I'll ramble on. The Edmonton band - well, on record it is mostly just Paul Arnusch with the occasional keyboard run by Doug Organ - dabble in sounds and textures that usually come from across the pond. From Paul's diction and delivery to the sparkling guitar lines and minor key sounds, he channels acts like the Zombies and early Radiohead, but he isn't dependent on them. Sure, Sorry James sounds like it could have been unearthed from an juke box nestled in the back corner of some English pub, but The Whitsundays have a lot more to offer.

These lush compositions aren't exactly the type of songs that will turn your musical world on it's axis, but luckily that isn't a requirement for good pop music. No, what you look for is that familiar shimmer, the hints of blues and surf guitar and pleasant, reverbed psychedelics. Arnusch has all of those sounds in spades, like the warming sunshine feel of the California-pop laced It Must Be Me or the warbled organ and harmonies of Falling Over. The record - which is a compact 34 minutes - exposes Paul's embrace of the 60's radio tracks we all still crave, but also shows his need for experimentation.

He could have powered through with melodic pop nuggets like Lorlaee, but instead he uses his vintage gear in interesting ways. Over the course of the almost 6 minutes of Bring It On Home, I think he sort of stumbles over a slow beginning before changing pace with a muddy chaotic middle section with some unexpected baritone double vocals. By the time he ties it all up with a long sax solo and some xylophone work, you wonder where else he can take the track. He plays with tempo and energy on the big bass lined Antisocial and really hits on some dark, introspective thoughts, but I think his best work surfaces when he lets the music he grew up with come through in his songs with a smile.

This debut record might seem like just another pop record to the skeptic listener, but unlike so many artists sampling from the same menu, Arnusch seems to be able to put his own stamp on the sound. It's well worth taking a chance on if you like any of the bands that influence his work and are looking for something that sounds great that wasn't from the 60's.

myspace :: buy record from zunior

Posted at 4:02 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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