Sunday, April 27th, 2008
Sunday Cleaning – Volume 88
This week – previewing some acts in town this week to play the Over The Top Fest.
|Simply Saucer / Half Human Half Live (Sonic Unyon)
Originally active in the 1970s and then relegated to the dusty annals of Canadian punk rock history, Hamilton’s Simply Saucer have resurfaced in recent years and been both collecting and delivering on their legend, most recently with their first, almost-proper album in Half Human Half Live. As the name implies, it’s 50% studio cuts – recordings of songs written over 25 years ago but never committed to tape – and 50% live recordings culled from their recent reunion. And it’s a fascinating melange of styles that could only have happened, un-self consciously, in the ’70s. Surf-inflected instrumentals give way to Television-esque prog excursions at one turn, Floyd-ish psych-folk the next, all built on a simple but solid bed of ’50s, garage-bred rock’n’roll. And while the back story is fascinating, even without it, if this were just a new band coming up today, it’d be a noteworthy record. It’s hard not to listen to this and wonder, if these songs had reached the world’s ears two and a half decades ago, what kind of impact they’d have had. I suspect it’d have been immense.
|Wye Oak / If Children (Merge)
I welcomed my first taste of Baltimore’s Wye Oak, nee Monarch, with such great enthusiasm that is was probably inevitable that their debut album would be something of a let down. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why, though. The record still blends fuzz-lined dream-pop with downbeat country-isms and well-matched co-ed vocals and at their best – the pop blast of “Warning” and the sombre, string-accented “Family Glue” are standouts – recall Yo La Tengo’s finest moments. Across the whole record, however, there’s something that doesn’t quite hit the mark. The overall experience feels just a bit too languid, too soft around the edges to really grab me by the lapels and shake. But factor in the duo’s tender ages, their obvious talent and are working with a musical forumla that to these ears at least, should yield gold soon enough.
Wye Oak are at Sneaky Dee’s on Friday, May 2.
|Woodhands / Heart Attack (Paper Bag)
Woodhands are here to make you dance, and they will not take no for an answer. The Toronto duo engage this mission with a missionary zeal, and by working heavily with live drums and analog synth tones are able to get right in your face, sonically speaking. Singer-keyboardist Dan Werb is far from your typical electro-soul smooth operator, though. Though the record is bookended with guest appearances from female vocalists that sweeten things up, the bulk of the record is built around his tightly-wound, shredded-vocal delivery he sounds more like he’s got some sort of anxiety disorder rather than a sexy fever, but one where the side-effects are booty shaking.