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by Archives March 10, 2009

Go God Go
Sparks Music; 2008

Fred’s new album Go God Go it set up by the album artwork to resemble a film, each member treated like an actor on their cover photo. Well, if this is a film, then this is an all-star cast and it deserves an Oscar nod. Each song equals in depth and uniqueness. The first single “Skyscrapers,” also the first track, helps let the listener understand what the whole album is about; filled with a highly energetic string section and a melody that reminds one of the timeless retrograde attitude that worked so well for Sloan. Interestingly, Go God Go touches on many different artists, making one check the list of contributors, looking for the names of Thome York, Belle & Sebastian and the Shins. This album is a must have if you are into well composed alt rock with a brit pop twist.

– Tyler Alty

Kelly Joe Phelps
Western Bell
Black Hen Music; 2009

Kelly Joe Phelps releases his eighth – yet first solely instrumental – album, Western Bell, expressing cool rhythms of a vast and haunting western landscape. With no vocals at all, Phelps’s slide guitar takes the lead, producing poignant and wistful ballads that a voice couldn’t give proper credence to. Although solo, Phelps’s guitar takes on many faces; crossing from sorrowful country to light-hearted jazz that creates a sublime dissonance throughout the entirety of the record. The album art also plays on the theme of isolation of Phelps’s lonely artisanship – almost entirely black, with non-descript images of black-and-white. The art gives as few clues to the songs as the non-existent vocals. But even more eerie than the three images of him occurring on the three outside walls of the folded-paper CD case is the image placed underneath the disc: a dark and out-of-focus seascape with Phelps now gone, explaining what’s “beneath” the album – a lonesome passage with no Phelps as a guide, just the wailing of his communicative strings.

-Tyler Alty


Fantasies (Pre-Order Digipack)
Last Gang; 2009

This is an EP of sorts – a digital-release offered by Canadian indie idols Metric, by pre-ordering the deluxe edition of their up-coming LP, Fantasies. The three songs are available to download from the band’s website, plus the bonus “Waves,” included in the limited edition version. Being that the band hasn’t dropped a proper LP in four years; fans are probably salivating for new wax – the geekier ones already sinking their teeth into the digital bone the band has thrown to them here. But there’s really nothing to chew on, and it comes off as a smart yet gimmicky marketing tool. “Help, I’m Alive” and “Gimmie Sympathy” (acoustic version) are featured here in the digi-pack, as well as on the fourth-coming LP. The former is far too formulaic and the latter ridiculously cheesy. “Waves” is a b-side/outtake from Fantasies, sounding like teeny-bopper detritus, while the Pink Floyd cover “Nobody’s Home” remains the only reason to bother downloading this thing.

-Jon Dempsey

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