Sunday, June 8th, 2008
Sunday Cleaning – Volume 92
A special NxNE preview edition!
|Young & Sexy / The Arc (Mint)
I’ve given up that Young & Sexy will ever be the band I hoped they’d become since their 2002 debut Stand Up To Your Mother, which is to say a bonafide Canadian answer to Belle & Sebastian. But rather than hone the great twee-pop promise that record showed, they headed off in another direction. Paul Pittman and Lucy Brain’s immaculate boy-girl harmonies would remain but by album four, they’ve been grafted onto song structures that are more prog than pop, often eschewing the easy hook in favour of an unexpected turn. Such ambition is laudable but too many sudden turns and you’re likely to get lost and much of The Arc feels more like a knot – meandering and lacking focus or purpose. It could well be that eventually they’ll hit on the right formula to thrill both the pop-seekers and experimentalists, but until then we’ll have to settle for a balance of beauty and frustration.
Young & Sexy play Sneaky Dee’s at 11PM, June 13.
|The New Odds / Cheerleader (Pheremone)
Even though they’ve got three of the four original members – singer/guitarist Steven Drake has opted to sit this out – The New Odds should be commended for taking on a (slightly) different name for their new incarnation. Back when they were just Odds (not even the definite article), they were a staple of my high school/college musical diet for their ability to mate clever (but not smart-ass) lyricism with sharp, guitar-driven power pop. The intervening years haven’t dulled those instincts but there’s something new between the riffs – not necessarily the maturity you’d expect from more advanced years, but more an uncertainty and ambivalence at being expected to be more mature. Conscious of the baby seat in the minivan but also the Marshall stack in the trunk.
MySpace: The New Odds
|Ketch Harbour Wolves / December (independent)
This isn’t the most timely review – this Toronto band’s EP came out last year and they’ve already released a follow-up in Dead Calm Horizon – but in my defense the slim paper packaging was easy to lose amongst the stacks of CDs, and hey, better late than never, right? What I was missing was a darkly elegant collection of songs reminiscent of The National, though perhaps not quite so world-worn or on the wrong side of last call. Tastefully appointed with strings, horns and stately piano but with a unmistakably rock core, December reaches for understated theatricality while sidestepping melodrama and achieves something a little short of greatness but still pretty impressive.
Ketch Harbour Wolves play the Matt Cohen Parkette (aka the giant dominos sculpture at Bloor and Spadina) at 4PM this Tuesday and at Rancho Relaxo on Thursday at midnight