Posts Tagged ‘Wolf Parade’

Waiting For Something That Will Never Arrive

April 11, 2009

Nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn.

Wolf Parade

I’ll Believe In Anything

Welcome to Part II of my look at Wolf Parade’s Apologies to Queen Mary. Part I was yesterday.

Shine A Light starts out like Get Back by the Beatles but eventually gets down to Wolf Parade business. It seems like it could be song one on the album, which makes sense with the way that Same Ghost Every Night felt like an end.  Waiting for something that’ll never arrive.

I’m really glad I chose to revisit this album because I think it represents what is really good about contemporary Canadian music: strong musicianship, professional writing, and creative sounds.

Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts beings out with a bouncy synth part.  The distinctive vocal stylings of the band’s leaders are once again on display.  One of the elements of a great band is the way that each member fuses together in an almost effortless manner.  This is perhaps the biggest challenge in making a successful group. Lalalalalala! This is a song that seems longer than it is.

I once waited in the rain for an hour to see Frog Eyes and Sunset Rubdown two of Sebastien Krug’s other bands, only to find out that they were held up at the border, the Canadian border, and weren’t going to make it.  I’m still not sure how citizens of Canada were stuck trying to get back to Canada, but I was very disappointed by that.

Once again one song leads to another and one of my favourites, I’ll Believe In Anything is rolling before the previous track is quite done. The guitar rift in this song is simple yet fantastic. Both the synth and vocal melody follow along with it.  The song appears to plod along and yet is quite catchy. I could take another hit for you.

I mentioned yesterday that the songs were reminiscent of The Verve because the lyrics were often indiscernible.  I would ague that Wolf Parade is an heir to the shoegazer sound.  It just seems to fit so perfectly for them. I could take the fire outI’ll take you where nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn. Those words I got.

It’s A Curse.  I think this album gets better as it goes along. The last handful of tracks are arguably better than the first few.  If you gave up on them in the beginning I feel sorry for you. Stop missing out.This song starts out with some whammy bar guitar, without the requisite irony of that.  Wolf Parade aren’t afraid to use a beautiful rock guitar riff in their songs.  Sometimes a band just needs to turn up the amp and rock away, this is that kind of song.  Maybe the whole album is like that. The breakdown in this song is the best part of the album in my opinion. We have reached the high water mark, and what a sweet place it is.

At 7:35 Dinner Bells is the longest track on the album. I remember buying CDs that listed the length of each track on the back. There are probably tapes and LPs out there that are similarly marked. With the proliferation of iTunes and other computer based Mp3 players we know the length of every song ever recorded and commited to hard drive.  Do I need to know that information? Not really, but it’s fun to write about.  The song itself starts out almost ballad-esque.  The song has an apparently depressing theme, about many things lost.  Musicians learn to dance.  About half way through it seems like the song is going to end. Instead a slow build up brings us around and around. You might expect the song to blow up, but it never really does.

We have reached the end, This Heart’s On Fire. It’s another stand out track for me.  A straight ahead indie rock song.  Lots of power chords and synth runs over a steady beat.  It would be one of the three I’d download if that was all I was going to get.  Add to that Fancy Claps and I’ll Believe In Anything.  That set will make you want the rest of the album.

Apologies To Queen Mary is an outstanding effort by one of Canada’s best bands.  If you can see Wolf Parade live I highly recommend it as their high energy show is bound to move you.

I Was A Hero Early In The Morning

April 10, 2009

We are raised up very high.

Wolf Parade

Same Ghost Every Night

As part of my ongoing effort to live in the past I am going to write a running commentary review of Wolf Parade’s 2005 Apologies to Queen Mary.  This Montreal band, formed in literally three weeks in 2003, blends Radiohead-esque sounds with Canadian indie rock sensibilities.  At times I certainly feel like I’m hearing Johnny Greenwood et al. without Thom Yorke out front. On to the music:

You Are Runner And I Am My Father’s Son is a nice introduction to the band and the album.  The vocals are quite distinctive and remind me of Modest Mouse. Perhaps not coincidentally it was Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock that brought the band into the Sub Pop fold.  This song lays on top of a repeating drum pattern that persists throughout most of the song.  The guitars would be at home on early U2 or Peter Gabriel.

The next song, Modern World, is introduced seamlessly from the previous track. I’m not in love with the modern world.  The song is somewhat of an anthem about life in our world.  A dirty piano sound runs through the verses while the chorusy bit is more ethereal.  One thing about this band is that I often struggle to understand what they are singing, much like The Verve. I wonder if it’s intentional distortion of an issue with my hearing.

Grounds for Divorce starts out like a Clash song at least as far as guitar tone goes.  Quickly we are treated to some fun synth (a mainstay of current indie rock).  Random album fact, apparently the title of this disc refers to an incident on the actual Queen Mary ocean liner.  I don’t think I’ve ever had an incident in a public place. Maybe something is wrong with my life.  This song breaks down into a delightful guitar synth outro that lasts about a minute.

One of the great features of Apologies to Queen Mary is that there is no down time. The tracks slam into each other in a pleasing way. We Built Another World follows the winning formula of synth and guitar.  We are also trated to some nice back and forth harmony in the middle of the song. Bad things happen in the night.

This album was shortlisted for the inaugural Polaris Music Prize in 2006. I’m not surprised because it embodies all the principles of good indie Canadian rock, and is outstanding musically.

Fancy Claps is the most familiar song for me. It appeared on a mix CD that lived in my car stereo for about 2 years. Coincidentally the length of the relationship I had with a huge Wolf Parade fan.  For awhile, Fancy Claps was Wolf Parade to me. I absolutely love the harmonies in this song.  They almost aren’t what is traditionally known as vocal harmonizing but rather its two abrasive voices blending to create an enjoyable sound. When the clapping comes in and the keys start to solo out the song I smile. I love what I’m hearing.

Suddenly the album takes a turn.  The evening has descended on the album. Same Ghost Every Night is slower and more understated than anything we’ve been treated to so far.  At times this could be a Weezer song. The band, while maintaining a firm grip on indie reality, detours a little into a mesh of almost carnival sounds and rock & roll.  I don’t think I’ve expressed that idea very well, but if you listen to the song I think you’ll get it.

The last song ends like a natural break so I will pause now for the evening and bring you part II of this review tomorrow.