Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'
Review of Joel Plaskett's Three and giveaway
Ingram BarssWhen it comes to rock music, there’s few things that can be said to be asking to fail more than the double album and the concept album. To the former, most artists have trouble coming up with enough quality material to pad out a conventional 10-song set and to the latter… well, I don’t think there’s any explanation needed there. And let’s not even get started on the double- concept album. So the fact that Joel Plaskett’s latest is a triple-album with a running theme should be a recipe for glorious catastrophe… and yet it’s not. Far from it, actually.
But let’s be clear – Three may be ambitious, but it doesn’t overreach. The only real “concept” at work is the number three, which applies to the number of CDs in the set, manifests itself in a number of song titles (“Pine, Pine, Pine”, “Run, Run, Run” for example) and crops up in the lyrics from time to time – hardly a rock opera. And all 27 songs could have easily fit on two compact discs, but that would have spoiled the fun. And besides the numeral three, fun is the prevailing theme of this set – proceedings are dominated by an easy, laid-back vibe that finds Plaskett knocking off the sort of genial, unpretentious roots-pop/rock that has earned him the mantle of one of this country’s most reliable songsmiths.
And that reliability applies across the entire set. By sticking to what he does best and keeping the delivery simple and straightforward, Plaskett manages the remarkable feat of not including a single standout clunker. They’re certainly not all classics – many drift by with just an amiable nod – but anything that does catch jump out and grab the ear does so because it’s exceptional, and there’s no shortage of those, particularly on disc two. Generally, these are the quieter, more thoughtful compositions – a fact that may mark Plaskett’s transition from rocker to balladeer complete, but one that should be celebrated. Unless you still light a candle nightly in hopes of a Thrush Hermit reunion, in which case I cannot help you.
Plaskett has just begun a cross-Canada tour that will place him at Massey Hall on May 23, and courtesy of Maple Music I have a pair of tickets to give away to the show, along with an autographed copy of Three. To get in on this, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Joel Plaskett” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body, and get that to me by midnight, May 19.
MySpace: Joel Plaskett
Stream: Steve Earle – “Townes”
Blurt talks to Andrew Kenny of The Wooden Birds, whose debut Magnolia is out now. Imagine American Analog Set unplugged, sans vibraphone and Farfisa and you’re pretty much there. Check out a track from the album and also their WOXY Lounge Act session from SxSW in March. Muzzle Of Bees and Black Book have interviews.
Bowerbirds have released the first MP3 from their new album Upper Air. It’s out July 7 and they’re at Sneaky Dee’s on July 14.
Bob Dylan has a new video.
Ohbijou, who are currently gallivanting around Europe, have set a CD release show for Beacons when it comes out on June 2. The party will be on June 25 at the Opera House, tickets $13.
The Veils and Foreign Born will be at the Horseshoe on July 27, both with new albums to promote – Sun Gang for the former and Person To Person, out June 23, for the latter. Tickets for that are $13.50.
Lykke Li is coming back to town yet again on August 9, and this time she’s playing the Sound Academy. Tickets are $26.50.
Caribou are returning to live action this year and have something special planned for their September 10 show at the Opera House. They’ll be performing as The Caribou Vibration Ensemble and according to Exclaim, that means “Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden, Koushik, John Schmersal, Kathryn Bint and Ahmed Gallab, along with a choir, a horn section and a quartet of drummers”. Um, okay. Bring it.