Tuesday, September 29th, 2009
Set The Sails
Review of Dan Mangan's Nice, Nice, Very Nice
Jonathan TaggartSaying I was a bit award-ed out following last week’s Polaris Prize gala would be something of an understatement, so the ceremonies for the Verge XM Awards the following night were largely ignored around these parts. But that doesn’t mean the results weren’t of interest – okay, Alexisonfire winning album of the year was of zero interest, but the declaration of Vancouver’s Dan Mangan as artist of the year certainly drew a double-take. This response had nothing to do with Mangan or his work, simply the fact that it’s a pretty heady honour to bestow on someone who’d only released his new album Nice, Nice, Very Nice a little over a month prior, though that was preceded by the Roboteering EP in the Spring. The whys and wherefores of that do interest me, but we’ll set that aside for now and just consider the record.
And it’s a good one. On the surface, it’s a tuneful collection of roots-rock/pop, hummably melodic and understatedly orchestrated, but what’s most compelling is the narrator that Mangan inhabits in his songs. Though his likeable rasp implies a certain forthrightness of character, that he’s the sort of guy who tells is straight and like it is, lyrically he’s much slipperier. Sardonic observer of the world around him one moment, absurdist storyteller the next, but I suppose when done right the two really aren’t all that different. You’re never sure if Mangan is telling tall tales or pouring his broken heart out because he does both with a twinkle in his eye; the unreliable narrator, the court jester, or just the guy perched on a barstool, it doesn’t really matter – there’s as much cosmic truth as fiction in these songs and either is where you find it. And if you’re just looking for some great songs, they’re here too. Artist of the Year still strikes me as a bit premature, but if Mangan is still finding himself up for awards in a year’s time or so, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit.
Mangan kicks off a cross-country tour this week and will be in Toronto in a couple weeks on October 16 for an in-store at Criminal Records on October 16 at 6PM and a gig proper at the Rivoli that night. Then it’s off to the UK and Europe. Okay, maybe he’s having a really good year after all. There’s features on Mangan at The Georgia Straight.
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Road Regrets”
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Robots”
Video: Dan Mangan – “The Indie Queens Are Waiting”
Stream: Dan Mangan / Roboteering
Stream: Dan Mangan / Nice, Nice, Very Nice
MySpace: Dan Mangan
Note that the Rural Alberta Advantage show originally scheduled for November 4 at Lee’s Palace has been moved to November 20 – tickets for the former date are still good. There’s an interview with frontman Nils Edenloff at The Maneater.
Portions of the Caribou Vibration Ensemble performance at All Tomorrow’s Parties NY have been made available to stream or download at the Free Music Archive, with word that a full live album may be forthcoming. The Toronto show was amazing – I expect this was nothing less.
MP3: The Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “Skunks”
MP3: The Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “Barnowl”
MP3: The Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “Brahminy Kite”
MP3: The Caribou Vibration Ensemble – “A Final Warning”
Handsome Furs have set a date for Lee’s Palace on December 5, tickets $15. No occasion, just bringing some rock.
Long-time R.E.M. sideman and once-and-future Posie Ken Stringfellow has a new band of Norwegians called The Disciplines. It’s got a garage-ish bent, but there’s no suppressing Stringfellow’s canny pop sensibilities. They’re heading out for a North American tour next month, including a stop at the Velvet Underground in Toronto on October 22 ($8 in advance), and are also looking for places to crash in many of the cities on the itinerary and a Vox AC30 amp to borrow.
St Vincent’s Annice clark talks to Radar Online about her contribution to the soundtrack to New Moon, which I’m content to know nothing about save for one of the protagonists sparkles. Clark also gives an interview to The Vanguard.
Video: Taken By Trees – “My Boys”