Monday, December 29, 2008

Reviews:: Library Voices Hunting Ghosts & Other Collected Shorts

myspace :: label

It's amazing to think a twelve member band still in its formative days can deliver an EP that intrigues and completely satisfies the listener. Unlike so many new bands, Regina's Library Voices has a amazing understanding of what makes a band unique, but avoids any of the pretension that could have easily dominated their debut EP, Hunting Ghosts & Other Collected Shorts.

On first glance, you might be skeptical of Library Voices. I mean, a band that literally recorded the first 6 songs they wrote and includes almost twice as many members as penned compositions, isn't one that you'd expect to be accessible. Throw in the fact they obviously have shelves teaming with classic novels and use clever titles like Kundera On The Dance Floor and Love in the Age of Absurdity and you start to wonder if this Regina outfit is going to be an art rock project that was meant as a way to subtly poke fun at you instead of include you.

But then you listen to their songs and any concerns disappear as you dance around the room and smile uncontrollably. They don't hide their literary obsessions - mentions of Kafka, Kundera and Vonnegut are scattered throughout their songs - but instead of coming off like over read baristas that look down their noses at you, the references fit perfectly into the bookworm persona they exude. They don't drop titles (Unbearable Lightness of Being) to impress, but more because reading and living through the words of gifted authors is more familiar than being the coolest kid in the room.

There is an instantaneous nature to the recording and that's because the melodies are impossible to ignore. Step Off The Map & Float start with swirling synths and drums, but the guitar and shouted count down jump start the affair is what hooks you. Over the next 3+ minutes, the harmonies and Canasta-esque collage of sounds, plain and simply, makes you move. They find another infectious groove on the melodica/acoustic driven The Lonely Projectionist but honestly, on none of the six songs do you hear the band stumble.

No matter who takes the lead or what tone they set - Hunting Ghosts shows the band can drift into a female led, slower tune without lowering the quality - the band always seems to find the perfect combination of voices, instruments or time signature to keep you listening. The slink of Kundera On The Dance Floor matches the promiscuity of the bar room adventures and although the infectious hook drive the song - it must be mentioned that Mike Dawson's pen is obviously gifted.

Without forcing a literary comparison, it's fitting that he loves the work of Milan Kundera. The Czech writer puts his words together beautifully and always seems to find the perfect way to enhance emotions and scenarios (and you can safely say that the melodies the band use accomplish the same thing), but the thing I really love about Kundera is that even with all his political leanings he often quoted music to make his observations about society.

Dawson, on the other hand, uses literary quotes and references to describe the events that unfold in his songs. As he perfectly describes bar going, young adults and the struggle to impress members of the opposite sex while trying to fight off the affects of the drink, he touches on the insecurities with subtle details like a person wearing a Tom Waits t-shirt to help define themselves or a young girl quoting Kafka in a drunken discussion.

At the end of the day, even with all the great things about this EP, the most amazing thing about this band is that they don't show any sign of slowing down. Since September they've recorded a terrific EP, grown in size and are already putting the finishing touches on a brand new full length. They've got attention from major publications all across Canada and a shout out in Spin magazine. One would guess it's only a matter of time until Library Voices aren't talked about in a casual whispers, but rather screamed for all to hear.

Posted at 8:20 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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