A departure from the hip-hop sounding Alopecia of last year, Eskimo Snow takes on an indie-rock vibe that has a dash of the band’s former sound.
The heavier methodical beats are gone and in their place are healthy guitar melodies, rhythmic xylophones, and a more standard song structure. Still, a tinge of hip-hop can be heard on a few tracks, take “This Blackest Purse,” as an example.
Yoni Wolf, songwriter for Why?, is still at the top of his lyrical game. Relying on abstract imagery and self-doubting lyrics, Eskimo Snow plays like a dreamy, sometimes nonsensical, confession.
The material making up Eskimo Snow comes from recording sessions and songs trimmed from Alopecia. At times the album can feel like a b-side or outtakes collection, and in one instance lyrics are recycled and reused verbatim.
Not as strong as Alopecia, Eskimo Snow falls victim to its origins, the cutting room floor.
Trial Track: “This Blackest Purse”
Find Me, the sophomore effort from Vancouver-based The Fugitives, opens with a scurrying banjo as the backdrop to a poetic narrative on loneliness. Despite its melancholic lyrics of separation and isolation, the opening track “Breaking Promises,” sets a merry and forthright mood for the remainder of the album.
Recorded live, the third track “Music,” is a mildly humorous, yet downright annoying surprise to find on what is supposed to be a musical recording. Consisting solely of a spoken word duet, it gradually speeds up to become a tongue twister.
The title track “Find Me,” salvages the album. Recalling the jaunty naughtiness of Gogol Bordello, it is a hurried, jolly affair full accordion, banjo, and balalaika.
Find Me fulfils the expectations of a good-natured folk record, leaving little lasting impression beyond.
Trial Track: “Find Me”
The Wheat Pool
(Shameless Records Canada; 2009)
A twangy collection of working man’s songs, Hauntario is the sophomore release by The Wheat Pool, a four-piece hailing from Ontario.
This bunch writes songs of melancholy, about long lost places and people, doing this in the most conventional and uninteresting way imaginable.
Like Bruce Springsteen decades earlier, or The Weakerthans of today, The Wheat Pool offer plenty of lyrical clichés on themes affecting the common layperson. Yet, in contrast, they do this while managing to sound barely alive. The songs have neither bone nor flesh, and simply blend tediously into the next.
The Wheat Pool are a bunch of nice guys writing nice songs that one might be partial to at a country fair. Granted, expectations don’t run high for an album titled Hauntario.
Trial Track: “Lefty”