Tag Archives: garage rock

North Lakes – “Grand Prix”

“I don’t need no fucks telling me how to listen to a record.” So begins Grand Prix, the sophomore release from Charlottetown, PEI’s North Lakes and a fantastic collection of tracks that has the potential to be one of the year’s best albums. It’s a beachy-garage-pop explosion of rock, showing us in eight tracks what great music sounds like and why we need to hear it for ourselves.

Released in May 2012 Grand Prix is a follow-up to North Lakes’s award-winning debut album, Cobra. The new album includes everything good about the band’s sound: fresh, raw, and full of fantastic retro flavour. It’s a real throwback to the rock ‘n’ roll of the ‘50s and ‘60s, the same bouncy, toe-tapping groove but with extra distortion and a bit more colour. Think of The Strokes meets The Beatles, a distorted garage-rock soundtrack to a party on the beach. It really would be perfect at the cottage or the beach, and from the opener “Crumbling Dice” to the sexy closing track “Vixen” the album creates a mood of totally positive energy. It’s full of fun and hope, and for that, the album is worthy of repeated listens and a lifetime of praise.

From start to finish, Grand Prix is chock-full of great beats, strong vocals, and perfectly timed guitar, and the chemistry and interaction between guitars and percussion are really powerful in songs like “Copernicus, Copernicus” and “Baptism in Burgundy”. They balance well, and it’s clear from the blend of sounds and the equality between all forces that this album is a partnership and a real group effort, nothing forced or unnatural about it.

This balance is shown in the relationship between long sustained notes on guitar and the faster-paced beating of the drums: like a perfect couple, the instrumental pieces create a solid partnership and one of those relationships that seems perfectly natural and destined. They complement each other perfectly and in doing so give birth to a near-perfect album. There are also bursts of energy throughout the album (“Hands-off Director”, for example) that will send you into a dancing frenzy and rounding out the album with some diversity.

Lead vocalist Nathan Gill shows real chops and a ‘50s influence in tracks like the dancey “Avalanche”, as he sings “gotta take a ch-ch-ch-chance” like a young Buddy Holly. This feeling creates an album that is full of nostalgia and completely unisolated. It fits in everywhere, and to music fans everywhere this is a huge plus. Listen to the lyrics, too: they’re clever and poetic, and like the songs on the band’s first release are worth listening to and enjoying over and over.

Check out and buy Grand Prix on iTunes! This album is too good to not hear, and you need to follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the much-needed updates and info. For those who like garage-rock, North Lakes is one of the best Canadian bands around and as they spread west from PEI and put their music in the hands and hearts of music lovers they’re bound to go far and become huge. Do as they say and go listen to North Lakes for yourself. Their story’s in their music and you don’t need anyone to tell you how to hear it.

North Lakes - "Grand Prix"

Apollo Ghosts – “Landmark”

Fun, loose, and sing-along-friendly are what first come to mind when listening to Apollo Ghosts’ latest album, Landmark. Yet, within the 15-song offering are embedded main songwriter Adrian Teacher’s honest, personal, and often moving words about home, friends, insecurities, love and losing love.

Their follow-up to 2010’s Polaris Prize long-listed Mount Benson, Landmark was written in Sackville, New Brunswick, and recorded in the band’s hometown of Vancouver, B.C. As on Mount Benson, Apollo Ghosts demonstrate their penchant for catchy bass lines and jangly guitar hooks, and quick, to-the-point songs, most of which clock in at the 1:30 to 2:00 mark. However, Landmark has a much more organic, garage rock feel than its predecessor, perhaps due to their DIY approach and the influence of the eclectic Sackville arts and music community.

The album’s opener, “What Are Your Influences?”, is a welcome introduction to Landmark with its happy, toe-tapping riff and the celebratory gang vocal yelping as Teacher muses, perhaps, about the fast pace of an artist’s rise to notoriety. Offerings like “Weekend Paradise”, “Paralysis of My Long Clerkship”, “I’m In Love with the USA” and “Newcastle” brim with the same feel-good, upbeat energy and memorable hooks that one can’t help but bop their head along.

There are moments on Landmark that aren’t sunny, however. Teacher reveals his most vulnerable and honest moments on songs like “So Much Better When You’re Gone” and “Will You Forget Me”. On the former, bearing its unvarnished honesty in the title, Teacher sings about the end of a relationship, vowing to keep his heart even if it means giving up all the shared possessions. On the latter, the album’s closing song, the band ends on a beautiful refrain of harmonies that declares “There’s no memory at all, there’s an island.”

Like good songwriters do, Adrian Teacher allows the listener inside to experience his emotions, thoughts and memories on an intimate level. Yet, on Landmark, Apollo Ghosts make sure you have a great time along the way, leaving their delicious garage pop melodies stuck in your head; which is a good thing.

For a preview and to purchase Landmark, check out Apollo Ghosts’ BandCamp and Facebook sites.

Apollo Ghosts - "Landmark"