Indie music has taken a turn toward retro pop in recent years. We hear a lot of beats and grooves reminiscent of the 50s or 60s, and this really comes as no surprise: music and art are cyclical and we love to revisit old favourites. Bringing back some great 60s surfer rock and semi-psychedelic groove is Elk, a fantastic four-piece from Toronto and Niagara. A modern version of The Kinks, The Beach Boys, and The Wonders (the fictional band from That Thing You Do!), Elk is new but familiar, and their new album Daydreams has quickly become a lasting favourite.
The title of Daydreams is a perfect reflection of the band’s sound. Dreamlike and distant, it feels almost ethereal and otherworldly; vocals seem to take an echoey, reverb-filled backseat to the instrumental pieces, and this creates an eerie undertone to the otherwise upbeat album. Elk uses a variety of instruments and tempos on the album to add more creativity and range to the tracks, and in doing so they separate themselves from other less unique acts. They throw in super fun tambourine, piano (“Come Home”), and hand claps (“Every Girl That I Meet”) at appropriate parts throughout the album, and with plenty of toe-tapping beats and zippy hip-twisting the album creates a mixture of songs that both you and your mom can dance to.
The tracks themselves aren’t super complex or complicated, but this just adds to their charm. The easy, breezy flow of the album creates something that can be listened to repeatedly without even thinking about it. It doesn’t have that muddled jumble of noise that occasionally comes with garage-type bands, and the simple beats and riffs are what make the album flow so smoothly. The album-opening “Before The Sun” is a great example of why simple is better. You become part of the music, drumming along and humming the melody almost immediately, and when an album gets in your head the first time you hear it, you know you’ve found something good.
Listening to this album will make you want to see the band play live, and lucky fans in Southern Ontario will get a ton of chances to do so. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for their most up-to-date news, and take a peek at their label, IndoorShoes. Daydreams is available on iTunes and for a preview of Elk’s great sound, check out the video for “Before The Sun”. This is a band you need to hear, and a retro sound you need to revisit.
There are a few extraordinary life events that change a person. Getting married. Having babies. And even more amazing, discovering you like the same music as your parents. This is a shocking moment indeed, something you have tried for so long to resist but inevitably catches up to you. Sometimes this happens just because the music is damn good, and in the case of Dale Murray, we and our parents have excellent taste. Released in March 2012, Dream Mountain Dream is Murray’s second album and something to be loved. Murray is no stranger to the world of musical accomplishments: a founding member of The Guthries and formerly of Cuff the Duke, Murray has proven to be a gifted, versatile, and passionate artist with a huge grab bag of talents and still so much more to give. Everything on this album is great; from Murray’s instantly recognizable voice to the catchy melodies and much-acclaimed guitar skills, there is a feeling of effortless perfection behind natural instincts. He seems to just know what will work, a gift that reveals itself in the harmonies, the chord progressions, and the overall flow of each of the album’s tracks. This isn’t something that comes easily to most people, but on Dream Mountain Dream, it’s impossible to ignore. Each of the album’s tracks has a catchy, cross-generational feel. It might be considered a mix of alt-country, folk, and rock, not forced into any tidy genre but finding a home among all three. This blend of sounds is what makes it so appealing to different listeners, and fans of music both modern and old will find something to love. Murray can easily be compared to George Harrison in songs like “Evicted” and “My New World” and new favourites Said The Whale in “You are My Girl”. Each track is immediately catchy and you’ll find yourself singing along to “Dream Mountain Dream” on even the first listen. This album has incredible potential as a staple in Canadian music, a fantastic 10-track collection that definitely deserves greater exposure. Fans of folky country-rock will love this album. It’s a great soundtrack for pretending to be busy at work or relaxing on the weekend, and it gets especially better after a few times on repeat. Check out his website and Facebook for more information, and buy this and his first album on iTunes. The album has already been called one of the year’s best, and chances are you and your parents will love it. For a taste of Dale Murray, listen to “The Wind is Trying to Kill Me”: