Friday, August 1, 2008

Reviews:: What Capitalism Was Songs For East German Accordion

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It seems I've taken a little break from Canadian content this week. After the joy of Mark Berube's new disc and the unexpected pleasure I got from the Human Highway album, I've been struggling to find something full of maple leaf goodness that really moved me to write (the new Woodpigeon and a trip to Sappyfest will help that though).

It was a case of the ole blogging cupboard being dry and the desire to jump into the stack of promos I didn't ask for and don't really fit our style was low and the desire to take a day off was high.

Well, luckily an old friend reached out and gave me the jumpstart I needed. Early last year, I stumbled upon some amazing songs by What Capitalism Was - aka John Catfish. The songs were rich in melody, but as fragile and delicate as crystalline. Catfish's double tracked voice creaked and broke around the picked acoustic lines and warmed my heart.

But he was focusing his time on his other project - Super Daughter - so it was quite a shock to get a new EP from WCW; especially considering it was an accordion only effort. Ever since the rise of Devotchka and Beirut, the Baltic/gypsy inspired sounds have been cropping up almost as much as the slide guitar, but with a personality like Catfish, I'd wager that keeping up with the times musically ranks pretty low on the priority list.

Who John is plays a big part in why Songs For East German Accordion is so pure. He doesn't try to create pop music or rollicking anthems using the chromatic and diatonic buttons as nothing more than well placed flourishes. Instead he opts for a more traditional, solitary approach. The songs - of which over half are instrumental - are created with his accordion and some double tracked vocals. No more no less.

With quick two-minute tracks like a windy sea and the thief, he quickly cements you into the sounds of the accordion, but the addition of two sparkling covers - Mr. Sandman and the Squirrel Nut Zippers track, Lover's Lane - he adds just enough whimsy to keep you listening.

I know this isn't going to be everyone's cup o' tea, but it was enough to get me typing happily. Getting to hear the output of a man that has less fans than most have friends renews your faith in music and creativity. For that reason alone, this EP would be worth hearing. The fact it's solid is the icing on the cake.

You can download for free, and if you like it you can send John a few duckets (but he won't accept more than $3). That's less than a coffee and keeping a pure soul creating is certainly worth more to you than another over caffeinated day.

Posted at 7:27 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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