Acres and Acres – All Nations
(Killbeat Music; 2009)
This East Coast collaboration falls short of quality folk. Despite the requisite harmonica and a solid musical base, Kris Pope and Dave Scholten of Acres and Acres can’t compete with Neil Young.
The album contains stripped down songs, designed by Pope and Scholten to showcase the stories they want to tell. Unfortunately, these guys could use a creative writing class. The simple structure only highlights their weak word choice. Nonsensical lyrics are rampant, and largely distracting.
Half of the album was recorded live at All Nations Church in Halifax, N.S. These sessions netted the opening song, “From a Forest,” which is definitely the strongest cut on the record. For the first time the live recording amplifies the haunting mood of the track.
All Nations is a decent attempt musically, but Acres and Acres have a long way to go if they want to get their message across.
Trial Track: “Don’t Come Knockin'”
Islands – Vapours
Dropping the bombastic, overblown arrangements of Arm’s Way, Islands new album Vapours is a return to full indie rock form.
The sound of Vapours is still rich, but subtle compared to its instrumentally crammed predecessor. Layered over the guitars, drums, and bass are synths, sitar, and piano. Each is used as a small enriching touch that adds to, but not overwhelm, the track.
The 12 tracks on Vapours evaporate into one another leaving nearly seamless transitions from start to finish. What differentiates each track from the last is which of the touches Islands incorporated.
“Devout” features a heavy drum driving drum machine beat giving the impression of a discotheque anthem. The following track, “Disarming the Car Bomb,” drops the drumbeat for hooks reminiscent of the group that led to Islands, The Unicorns.
Vapours comes across as an organic whole, made up of delicately crafted individual tracks.
Trial Track: “Vapours”
You Say Party! We Say Die! XXXX (Paper Bag Records; 2009)
Dance punk partiers, You Say Party! We Say Die! are back with their third release, XXXX.
The album shows a band badly in need of direction. YSP! WSD! are clearly trying to update their sound, but this Abbotsford B.C. group hasn’t quite found it.
Their previous recorded efforts have been somewhat hit and miss, there were always some stand out, shout-along, dance-floor ready tracks. Not this time.
Instead there’s hints of Metric, Stars (“Laura Palmer’s Prom”), pop-punk (“Glory”) and what sounds like a third rate Ed Banger rip-off (“Cosmic Warship Avengers”).
The album seems to take itself too seriously, and the songs blur together under too much production. XXXX isn’t bad, but it’s certainly their weakest release so far.
Trial track: “Laura Palmer’s Prom”