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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Video Hits:: Yukon Blonde, Ghostkeeper & The Junction

Yukon Blonde
Bit of a condensed version of the video hits this week, as starting a new project at a new company has left me jammed like it was Julius and I was Mike Cooper trying not to get flushed on. But it's Thursday, and you fine folks want videos, not my sob stories, so lets have at it.

Vancouver's Yukon Blonde has blown up a bit. The Ack was complementary of the band as he tried to short-circuit the Fleet Foxes comparisons before they got up a head of steam, and I said this about the band after catching their set during HPX: "Yukon Blonde were great: fun, polished set - they seem like they've been playing together for decades". So we liked them, but it's been surprising much I've been hearing about them from US sources. Good for them I say! Wind Blows was the standout of their HPX set for me, and so a video is a welcome development.

The next band from out west to blow up? It might very well be Ghostkeeper, as Shane Ghostkeeper & Co. have been all over the blogs of late. I haven't actually heard the album to be honest, but you can check out their new video for Haunted and decide for yourself.

To round things off, we have a new video from The Junction, who I reviewed last summer, when, ironically, I was starting my last project! Isn't that amazing, life is one big circle isn't it? Anyway, as I said in that review, The Junction's last album was perfect warm weather music, and this new single, No Road is no exception, so maybe posting it up will encourage some of that warm weather we enjoyed last weekend to come back. Enjoy!

Yukon Blonde - Wind Blows

MP3:: Yukon Blonde - Wind Blows
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/yukonblondeband

Ghostkeeper - Haunted

MP3:: Ghostkeeper - By Morning
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/childrenofthegreatnorthernmuskeg

The Junction - No Road

MP3:: The Junction - My Love Was There
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/thejunction

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Posted at 1:00 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Reviews:: Yukon Blonde self-titled

I'm currently reading Chuck Klosterman's latest collection of essays, Eating the Dinosaur. So far, the most interesting is his analysis of svelte NBA post man and one half of the original twin towers, Ralph Sampson. His basic premise is that despite his relative success, Sampson was a bust simply because he had so much talent that anything less than super stardom should be viewed as failure.

While I disagree with that notion - and certainly will never let anyone talk smack about Ralph's awesome mini fro / moustache combo or his killer high top Pumas - the two points that resonated with me were 1) the idea that Ralph made it look to easy you naturally assumed he didn't want to be great and refused to make the required effort to take it to the next level and 2) that because he wanted to be a 7'4" PG, he was trapped in a body that prevented him from being the player he wanted.

Klosterman's argument focused on how Ralph never won a big game and despite making the NBA All-Star team and several moments of success he never delivered on his potential. Because he was so talented and made things seem effortless, we assumed it came easy to him and he was above us and that any failures were his own fault. When it comes to Vancouver rockers, Yukon Blonde, I feel a lot of the same - and in their case unfounded - criticism may occur. Jeff, Brandon, Adam and Graham bang out shimmering melodies so consistently that you can't help but think it comes easy to them.

The Kelowna quartet - now based in Van city - is a name few music fans have heard, and their infectious 60's pop will constantly compared to timeless acts like Fleetwood Mac and CSNY. Unfortunately, with the rise of bands like Midlake and Fleet Foxes, Yukon Blonde is probably going to suffer from the "another band revisiting 60's sunshine and multi-layered harmonies" dismissal, simply lumped in with the bands trying to take the easy way to mediocre success. In reality, the band works their ass off as they drive back and forth across the country, fine tuning their craft. A name change probably (they used to be known as Alphababy) doesn't help establishing credibility to their back story, but for anyone thinking success and the purity of their sound came easily, you are sadly mistaken.

On the ear candy that is Babies Don't Like Blue Anymore, they reinforce their working ethic as they repeat, "I would do anything you would do" but in reality this band is making the effort that countless bands balk at. Leaving the comforts of your own scene. Getting back in the band to play a show for the headline band and sound techs and no one else. Yukon Blonde has done this, and if need be, will continue along the same hard path.

But when it comes to tying in this odd (and probably ill fated) comparison of Yukon Blonde to Ralph, the most glaring similarity is that the band can't help who they are. Does the fact that countless shitty bands try to add harmonies now that Fleet Foxes exploded onto the scene make their efforts any less satisfying? It shouldn't, because these guys have perfected their sound and despite the touch points people will gravitate towards, it's more unique and experimental than a casual listen may reveal.

The synths and harmonies that jump start the LP trigger countless memories of a time where music mattered to people - to make it easier, lets just all remember the moment where Zooey Deschanel hooks her nerdy little bro with a candle and a copy of Tommy - but band is determined to prove that they are more than the sum of their influences. Sure, if I had to I could probably find a song similar to Blood Cops or Trivial Fires in my parent's record collection but I'm more than ok with that. For some reason people embrace bands borrowing from the Fab Four or Neil, but other sounds get dismissed out of hand as the overused flavor of the month.

Honestly, if you cant get into this record you are simply trying too hard. The hat trick of hooks that is Trivial Fires, Brides Song and Babies Don't Like Blue Anymore can stack up against any fourteen minutes of Canadian music you will hear this year, but the unexpected highs are just as important to the success of the band. The surging power of the anthemic Loyal Man moves you from the breezy, sun filled days you expect and makes you think anything is possible. When it comes to Yukon Blonde, I'm starting to think that it just might be.

MP3:: Yukon Blonde - Wind Blows
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/yukonblondeband
LABEL:: http://www.nevadorecords.com/index.php

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Posted at 7:21 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quick Hitters:: Yukon Blonde Everything In Everyway

I’m still suffering the affects of the Polaris Hangover – literally, figuratively, visually (my eyes are still burning and my stomach slightly off as a result of seeing Damien’s wedgied ass last night) – but it’s a justified mind numbness. Bloggers are usually pretty independent and quick moving, unconcerned with other people’s opinions of a record, so the fact the last few weeks have been dedicated to 10 records and hours of thought and discussion means one thing:

I’m ready to talk about something else.

Don’t get me wrong, the process was interesting as were the reasons people cited for a record, the experience was amazing, Steve and Liisa did a fantastic job and the performances were top shelf, I just need to get some new sounds in my headphones. So as I sit at the airport, seemingly as far away from last night as I am from home, the new EP from Yukon Blonde is a nice blend of shimmering guitar and harmonies that help push me through the stale air and hours passed in Terminal 3.

The Kelowna poppers fuse 70’s pop with 60’s grit and somehow the effort never seems formulated or contrived. Streets sparkles like an earthier Fleetwood Mac or maybe a more Canadian Midlake, taking advantage of a bit of gritty guitar that tops a thick bass line to take some of the sheen off the affair. Tapes Forever Be Tapes display vocal interplay worthy of The Sea and Cake that helps you overlook some of the guitar wankery that tries to derail the track.

I’m interested to see how a full length would play out from the band, as some of the ideas and sounds they seem to prefer might not work as the number of songs starts to build. Heavy guitar solos seem to show up and sometimes overstay their welcome especially as they push perilously close to cheesiness on Free Your Mind. The simple concept of “free your heart into your mind” sounds like a white kid with dreads-hippie anthem (or something Ras Trent might preach) and the guitar work does seem excessive at times, but with the harmonies, bouncing bass and shimmering notes float you away and help you forget about the weight that often comes with music and life.

The highlight of Everything In Everyway is the subtle power they generate on the album closer. The tribal, didgeridoo-esque hum that starts Nico Canmore sets the tone for the 5-minute affair, but it’s the deft way they handle each layer that is added without overwhelming the gentle crescendo that really makes the song. The banged out piano, drums and guitar surge forward offering listeners the rare treat of a record that ends on its strongest note.

MP3:: Yukon Blonde - Streets
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/yukonblondeband
BUY:: http://www.nevadorecords.com/

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Posted at 8:46 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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