Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Reviews:: Maybe Smith Another Murder in the Morning

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Saskatchewan’s music community is one of the most underrated scenes in the country, and the eclectic, chaotic indie rocker Maybe Smith is one of its brightest shining stars. You might remember us debuting Bloopers - the catchy indie pop duet featuring Christine Fellows on vocals - on the Elgaard mixtape, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Maybe Smith – aka Colin Skrapek - has been making super creative music for a long time now, but I think he really hit his stride on his new record, Another Murder in the Morning - out until April 21. The 12-songs use keys, guitars, laptop effects, backing vocals and chaotic transitions to craft extremely hook filled indie rock, but the most impressive thing about the record is how Skrapek bulks up the melodies with powerful emotion and warm blasts of static and fuzz.

The constant shape shifting transforms the record, but his skilled touch keeps the train off the track even when the surges and energy peak. That’s probably because Colin is as comfortable playing the part of the melancholic troubadour (Night and Day) as he is experimenting with quirky shifts or straight ahead riffs, but in almost every case his songs are more of a melting pot of pop influences. The subtle acoustic and croon of Night and Day comes alive thanks to static and sound effects and leads perfectly into the whimsical feel of Treehouse Enthusiasts (the spinning noisemaker is perfect).

Colin says the record is full of “murder, winter and dogs” and while that may be true, he has also infused the songs with life, laughter and childhood memories. Dangerous Games Involving Bodies of Water (Fall & Winter) throws in some Beach Boys like harmonies, hand percussion and a sense of freedom that contrast the greys he sings about. Even the title track - a slow paced, emotive number – uses static, harmonies and keys to give the Jens Lekman-inspired track a fresher sound.

A Walrus with a Gunswordaxe vs. The Big Bang Machine is probably the best example of how complex Colin’s arrangements are. On the surface, the track is a fairly straightforward pop song, but he distorts the pleasantries of some choral vocals with a surging energy, before revisiting an 80's English Nightclub sound and finishing off with a stripped down, singer-songwriter closing verse. Dangerous Games Involving Bodies of Water (Fall & Winter) starts out with a hint of sadness, before changing into a swirling, frantic pop track. I Suck at Photosynthesis explodes into a thumping anthem from its humble lap-pop origin (and retreats to a dark synth outro), and I know these intricate, odd sounding combination of sounds may seem overwhelming, but Shrapek has such a clear vision of what he wants his songs to say that your attention never wavers.

Front to back, Another Murder in the Morning sizzles. It escapes classification, as Skrapek is as likely to sample from Nilsson or Orbison as he is quirky popsters like The Flaming Lips or cover the track with a blissful MBV haze, but never strays too far that he loses his own voice or his own unique style. Not your typical murder ballads or morose tales of loneliness, if we could all make our darkest thoughts sounds this good, the world would be a much better place.

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Posted at 8:15 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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