New Music Review: Library Voices – Denim On Denim
I’ve never been a huge fan of the province of Saskatchewan. Growing up as a BC Lions football fan and having nightmares of the “sea of green” of Saskatchewan Roughriders fans at Lions games likely has something, if not everything to do with my dislike for this prairie land. Well, something that may be changing my tune about the green province is indie rock octet, Library Voices. They call Saskatchewan home, and they are pretty swell. Pretty swell, indeed.
This 8-piece band includes Paul Gutheil, Eoin Hickey-Cameron, Mike Dawson, Carl Johnson, Karla Miller, Brennan Ross, Amanda Scandrett and Michael Thievin. Yes, 8 band members (boy, do canadian bands ever love having huge bands, eh? Maybe we just get lonely faster up here in the cold, white north). With about half the group contributing to vocals, a couple guitar players, several members on keys, a drummer, sax player, bassist, the stage is a packed place. Especially at the already-tight stage at UBC’s Pit Pub, where they performed October 29th, 2010.
As great as the show was and as sore as my neck was the next few days, I have decided to write a promo piece on their full-length studio album, Denim On Denim instead of a concert review. Why, you might ask? Well, even if you don’t ask, you should know that Library Voices’ Denim On Denim was up for a Polaris Music Prize this year; their single Drinking Games was an iTunes “Single of the Week”, and they are up for a few Bucky Awards (CBC Radio 3). Also, I may or may not have been a wee bit inebriated and as a result, lacking the necessary details which make a concert review longer than the only word I can conjure: “Awesome.”
Needless to say, there’s something special happening for Library Voices and they deserve the recognition.
The album Denim On Denim itself is enough to intrigue the indie music fan, or music fan in general. At first listen, it’s subtlety may leave you simply tapping your foot to the beat, but after a few more listens, you can’t help but do a jig and sing along to the lyrics to their Armageddon-bebop tune Party Like It’s 2012: “We’ll party like it’s 2012/Like there’ll be no morning after/Party like it’s 2012/Let’s hear it for the rapture” and “Do the oblivion shuffle/Do the redemption twist/Do the salvation shimmy”. Along with Party Like it’s 2012, there’s a little bit of a “The End is Near! But we don’t care!” theme going on throughout the album with the tune End Times: “I can accept impending fear and I can accept unending dread/You could live life fearing death or you could just go on with it”. Simply reading the lyrics doesn’t do the song justice, give it a listen!
In my opinion, the whole album is solid with one small exception to the dull lull of Model City. Intentional or not, it lacks any enthusiasm or magic that carries the rest of the album through. That’s the only negative thing I can say about this album.
Another standout is Bodies of Fiction. Both musically and lyrically, this song caught me one of the first listens through. Some nice guitar work and fantastic melodies and harmonies caught my ear, and then the simple, yet effective chorus lyrics “It’s just another song about love/I’m just another nameless narrator/It’s just another song about love/It starts with ‘I’ and ends with ‘We'”.
Just before the album closes with the up-tempo, four-and-a-half minute jam of Hello, Cruel World comes the quiet Balloon Menagerie. Recorded with an ancient sound as though the song is being played on an old record player, some drums beat in a back-ground, along with echo-y vocals, this is one is for a rainy, dark day. Similar to the not-so-exciting Model City, Balloon Menagerie is pretty low-key, but the vocals and musical build in the chorus truly save it, and are indeed the highlight of the song.
I won’t go through the entire 12 tracks on the album, although you can take it from me that the album is definitely worth a listen and an honest try! Check out Bookish, Write Me a Myth or the splendid Haunt This House, which features more great lyrics, and some cool old-school organ and 80’s synth. (Please sample songs and then buy them if you like them to support the musicians, thanks!).
Something different and refreshing from a band with great things to come: 4.5 out of 5 stars!
(Also, on a side note, their EP Hunting Ghosts has a few standout tracks in Step Off the Map & Float and Kundera on the Dancefloor. The latter is almost better in their acoustic version, click here.)