Friday, April 18th, 2008
Photo via ilovem83.com
Anthony Gonzales has been frequently declared as the new face of shoegaze ever since the release of M83’s 2004 debut Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts, so you’d think that I’d like them/him/it more than I do. Because while there’s much I like about M83’s craft, there’s much I just can’t come to terms with either. In the case of the debut, it was the icy electronic-ness of it all. There was no doubt that Gonzalez’ musical vision worked in an ultra-widescreen that I could appreciate, but I guess I’m old fashioned – I like my square-waves made by guitar signals passed through transistors pushed within an inch of their lives. Synth patches just aren’t the same.
The follow-up Before The Dawn Heals Us was a great leap forward, as far as being a much more organic affair with vocals and more pop-ish song structures, balancing out the synth textures with more conventional instruments. It also came with an air of grandiose melodrama that fell on the wrong side of fromage a few too many times for me to embrace it the way some others did. A large part of that, however, was the one track “Car Chase Terror” which I abhor so much I pretty much refuse to play the album. Yes, I know there’s a skip button. It’s a matter of principle.
And so now we come to the new record, Saturday=Youth, which Gonzalez describes as a tribute to the technicolour pop culture of the ’80s. Given that context, it’s a triumph. I grew up in the ’80s on a steady diet of the synth pop, television and movies from which Gonzalez draws inspiration and, well, it’s a bit uncanny. And for all the grief the ’80s get – much of it deservedly so – there was some great pop music made in that era, although much of it suffered from production that’s horribly dated now. Gonzalez recasts it in a sheen that’s more contemporary (though it may also sound horribly dated in a couple of decades) and tones down his cosmic tendencies to keep things sounding as appropriately huge, sweeping and romantic as you’d expect M83 to sound, but somehow not so over the top. There’s still a distinct, cheesy aroma but it wouldn’t be M83 without it – appreciating M83 requires a large degree of buy-in – but if you’re willing to let yourself be swept up in it, it’s quite a ride.
Chart has details on this year’s edition of Montreal’s Osheaga festival, which will take place on August 3 and 4 at Parc Jean Drapeau. First thought – hey, they’re not going head-to-head with Toronto’s V Fest this year. Instead, they’re on the same weekend as Lollapalooza. Smart. Second thought – hey, it’s during the August long weekend. Nice. Said thought is followed immediately by, hey that’s the Sunday and Monday so if I wanted to go, I’d still need to take a day off on the Tuesday though to be fair, if it was running Saturday and Sunday, you’d probably still need to take the Friday off for travel. If you’re a local, however, I bet you’d prefer that Monday off to recover. Anyway, as for the lineup, neither day’s headliners of The Killers or Jack Johnson does a blessed thing for me, but you’ve also got Iggy & The Stooges, Cat Power, Broken Social Scene and The Black Keys in there here’s hoping that the DeVotchKa appearance on the Sunday means there’s a Toronto date coming immediately before or after.
Tomorrow marks Record Store Day, wherein you’re encouraged to go to your local independent record store and hug a clerk. And buy something. Soundscapes here in Toronto will be taking part and offering 10% off CDs, DVDs and books. I will mark the day by taking my CD player into the shop, as it decided the other night that it would never open it’s tray door again. Stupid technology.
Obviously not having gotten the memo that my Fleet Foxes post went up on Wednesday, Daytrotter has posted the session recorded with the band back in February during Noise Pop in San Francisco. The Portland Mercury also has an interview with frontman Robin Pecknold.