Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reviews:: Pearson Clear Thinking On Mixed Feelings

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Sometimes the cover art of a record is perfect for the emotions it conveys. For Clear Thinking on Mixed Feelings, you look and see a black and white, grainy image of some trees and power lines, almost as if you are trapped in a car watching the odometer turn as your thoughts slowly start to consume you. We’ve all been there and whether its restlessness or tranquility, those moments of solitude offer up a clarity we don’t get to experience very often.

Pearson is remarkably skilled at creating songs rich in emotion, but giving you the freedom and accessibility to let your own experiences move among the notes. The slowcore folk arrangements (I have to ask - smansmith how this hasn’t showed up on slowcoustic yet??) are vast and fuzzy, leaving lots of open space and time to think but the band adds just enough instrumentation (glockenspiel, clarinet, strings and horns) to keep the listener focused. Most importantly, Pearson understands that sometimes less is more and as a result, the boost the horns add to the a minor toned Cold Comfort are ring out for all to hear instead of acting as just another layer in a wash of sounds.

The record – a whopping 13 songs most breaking the 4-minute mark – moves slowly but surely. Whether it’s a straight ahead number like This Is Not A Letter, Nor Is It A Postcard , a lo-fi duet like the closer Streetlight (a song that explodes with heavy guitar before retreating to the silence) or how they spike the simple picked riff and nice balanced vocals courtesy of Sonia Dickens and Will Robbins of On Second Thought, Our Collective Alcohol Consumption Was A Tad Ambitious with lap steel and trombone, Pearson is consistently displays the confident to take sonic risks.

As Clear Thinking on Mixed Feelings unfolds, you can find a song to fit any emotion, and most songs morph to however you are feeling. The weary Brown Paper, Dark Water could be a tear in the beer anthem or an end of the night track as your last friends leave full of booze and memories. It’s as sad as it is warm, not a trait common you find often in a song. I love how the slow burning Chaff Dust Sand Snow - featuring Steve Reed and Colin “Maybe Smith” Skrapek on vocals – builds slowly before the band jumps into the inspiring A Fade Out Is A Cop Out. The transition works perfectly and shakes free any gloom you might have picked up over the course of the record.

One thing though… as much as I like this record – honestly, I think I made a big mistake not including these guys on Elgaard – I wish they had decided to leave the stripped down cover of Hey Ya as a treat for concert goers. I’m not a fan of bands dropping in the semi-ironic rap cover, especially not a song that is almost 6 years old, but if a new take on an old classic is the only fault you can find with a record, I’m thinking you’ve stumbled onto something worth hearing.

******* UPDATE
I just wanted to put in a little note here, especially re-reading it and seeing the negative connotation I have attached to the cover song. Sure, we've heard lots of bands cover Hey Ya, and most were probably done because of the popularity of the track... but for me to judge an artist's motives - especially when the band, to quote Will himself, "was (trying to be at least) sincere. I actually think it's ironic that such a lyrical heartbreaker of song was a club banging hit" - is exactly the type of shit we try to avoid here on herohill. We bloggers often chuck up a judgment of someone we've never met, and my cynical attitude shouldn't run over and change the meaning of a song.

Either way, Pearson is a band you should all check out. Like right now
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Posted at 10:45 AM by ack :: 2 comments

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At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Smansmith did sayeth:

Er, wait, I must have been wooed away by some cowboy that was drowning his sorrow in whiskey while discussing his cheatin' wife and dead dog. How did I miss some slowcore/gaze indie group from Saskatchewan? I am losing my touch over on Slowcoustic!

The fact that they have "Grant Fuhr" as an influence on their MySpace page is worth the price of admission alone.

S.

 

At 9:05 PM, Blogger ack did sayeth:

The Grant Fuhr reference was one of the big selling points for me too.... if they somehow could have played Jari Kurri's helmet on one of the songs, it would have been love.

 

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