Tag Archives: Garage

Elk – “Daydreams”

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.

Elk - "Daydreams"

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"

Chris Naish – “Light A Cigarette”

A really good album must be three things: unique, diverse, and intelligent. Most releases have one or two of these qualities, but finding an album with that mythical third quality is quite rare. When we find it, the album is absolutely unforgettable. Fitting this description and introducing a distinct new sound is “Light A Cigarette“, the newest release from Calgary’s Chris Naish. The self-described “garage folk practitioner” has created something that is heartfelt, emotional and completely different, and that is pretty special.

Showing the inspiration of the legendary Bob Dylan, Neil Young and some Johnny Cash, Naish has a raw and unpolished sound that evokes images of dimly lit lounges, whiskey saloons, and someone who would sound incredible live. His talent is natural and untraditional, restoring faith in the artist who makes music just for the love of it and whose passion is worn on his sleeve. Each of the album’s six songs shows a deeply personal and spiritual side of Naish, with so much more left to be discovered.

With a mournful voice and lyrics like “I don’t think I should have to fall to make my friends seem so tall”, the more you listen to “Be The Road”, the more you want to love and protect Naish. Between this and the final track, “See New York”, Naish’s album paints a sometimes heartbreaking picture that becomes even more powerful on repeat – and this truly is an album that must be listened to again and again to really be appreciated. Crisp guitar, soulful harmonica and what can only be called a one-of-a-kind voice create a captivating album that few other musicians could successfully pull off.

Fans in Calgary, you are lucky: The official CD release show will be held November 18 at Bonavista Baptist, and the $10 ticket actually includes the album! Can’t wait until then? He’s also playing the Joints in Motion Silent Auction on November 10, a charitable event raising money for a good cause while also showcasing his fine talents and awesome stage presence.

Chris Naish is becoming well-known around Calgary, and with his distinct sound, it’s easy to see why. The uniqueness, diversity and intelligent song writing that make up the album create something fantastic, and you should consider yourself really lucky to have discovered him.

Chris Naish - "Light A Cigarette"