Friday, September 19th, 2008
Bare Feet On Wet Griptape
Photo by Marc Rimmer
The Chad Van Gaalen aesthetic is one that I’ve never been able to fully wrap my head around. Though the extremely tall Calgarian is obviously full of ideas and talent, the kitchen sink/everything goes approach that seemed to dominate his first two records didn’t quite jive with me. Though there were moments of shining pop glory that poked out of the lo-fi ramshackleness, I would have preferred things to be tidier. But that’s me.
On his new record Soft Airplane, things haven’t changed too much but I think I’m starting to come around or at the very least no longer wishing Van Gaalen would be something that he’s obviously not. It still sounds like he spent his advance trolling local garage sales for new noisemaking equipment rather than book time at the poshest studio in town, but the production has reached a comfortable state of mid-fi that retains the fingerprints of Van Gaalen’s quirky creative process while sounding fuller than past efforts. Soft Airplane is thirteen tracks of soft and gentle, singer-songwriter cores anchored by Van Gaalen’s high, tremulous voice, dispensed in a wide variety of ear candy coatings, from crunchy rock to shiny electronica to just plain odd sonic concoctions that only Van Gaalen knows what went into them. Getting frustrated with Van Gaalen’s musical ADD is a waste of energy – it’s far more interesting to simply sit back and enjoy the ride.
Van Gaalen is in town on October 4, though the venue has been changed from the Mod Club to the El Mocambo. I had noted before that he’d be doing an in-store at Sonic Boom the following day, October 5, but I can’t seem to find anything to back that up so double-check with the store before heading down. Or surprise yourself. And courtesy of Killbeat Music, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away to said show along with a copy of Soft Airplane on CD or LP, your choice. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to ride the Soft Airplane” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body along with your preference for analog or digital media. Contest closes at midnight, September 30.
CMJ has an interview with Van Gaalen.
Pitchfork has details on the Belle & Sebastian BBC Sessions comp mentioned yesterday, including the cover art, source of the tracks and a North American release date of November 18. And yes, it’s a two-fer.
The split 12″ between The Acorn and Ohbijou isn’t out till October 7 or thereabouts, but you can now preorder it as well as stream the whole thing (all four songs!) and download the cover of Ohbijou by The Acorn to hold you over. Their joint tour stops at Lee’s Palace on November 27 and The Acorn’s Heron Act collection is out September 30.
Ryan Adams will release a new album in Cardinology on October 28.
MP3: Foals – “Balloons”
MP3: O’Death – “Lowtide”
Stars have added a second date at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre – in addition to December 12, they will also be playing on December 13.
And FYI – next Thursday’s My Bloody Valentine show has been moved from one acoustically dubious venue – Ricoh Coliseum – to another – the Kool Haus. At least at 1/3 the size, it’ll feel that much more intimate. And deafening. Also note that this weekend’s MBV-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in New York will be streamed in its partiality at WFMU.