Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quick Hitters:: The Wallscenery Demos

The Wallscenery Demos is the name James Hicken has given to a collection of songs he produced, performed, recorded, and released himself this past March. James has played in bands like the Little Pilgrims and Battery Point since relocating to Toronto from Charlottetown in 2000. He leaned on some of the friends he made during his time in those bands to make these songs, getting contributions from members of the Northwest Division and Michael "Rosie" Rosenthal (Supergarage, Sunparlour players, Hugh & Rosie, Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra). That being said, there's such continuity among the songs that it's obvious this was a very personal project for Hicken.

I don't mind saying that before I listened to this album, I was a little concernicus due to the fact that it was 17 tracks and described as a "guitar driven project that dabbles in spaced-out soundtracks as well as indie folk pop". That's a lot going on right there, and I wondered if the length and ambition conveyed in the bio was going to make the whole thing a little unwieldy. In a development that should surprise no one, I was wrong. As the horribly cliche sports-related saying goes, that's why they play the game. Or listen to the record in this case. Turns out the whole thing clocks in at under 30 minutes, and is a real easy, not to mention enjoyable, listen.

As far as length goes, the first song, Wallscenery Holler, is the only song that eclipses the three minute mark. It also works as a good intro to what the album is about, building from acoustic guitar and airy vocals into a fuller sound with drums and electric guitar by the end. Despite the variation of sounds to be found, Hicken manages to transition smoothly from song to song, it never feels jarring or forced. He uses a Cos sample to slide into the solid drums and echo-y guitar of Way Out. Hard to go wrong with the Cos really.

Hard to go wrong with the Wallscenery Demos on a whole really. There's a mix of light, poppy-folky songs (Together Soon, Yesterday's Owl, Something Else 1), harder edged instrumentals (Cracked Out Clothes Changer, Rollin' In It), and more experimental efforts like the scratches & typewriter combo of What Now or the dub sound of the brief I For An I. You try blending that all into a cohesive package, not the easiest thing to do really. Might as well just go for a soda and then check out the job James has done, it's a win-win for you and him that way.

Posted at 2:40 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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