Tag Archives: Pigeon Row

Olivier Jarda – “Good Luck Cartel”

Some albums are absolutely beautiful. We can love them to the point of crying, wanting to hug and kiss and caress them until they explode with what we can only imagine to be rainbows and little cartoon hearts. These albums mean something to us. They stir up our emotions and connect to our souls in a way very few other things can, and it’s safe to say that after we fall in love with these albums we truly can’t imagine life without them. In the case of Olivier Jarda and his latest release Good Luck Cartel, this is exactly what will happen.

Jarda’s creation begs the question, “where have you been all my life?” It’s beautiful. On paper (or on a disc) it’s a collection of 11 indie-folk songs, but in reality it’s so much more. There is heart to these tracks; real thought, emotion, and integrity permeate from every layer, and whether you’re listening for the first time or the hundredth you will swoon over the richness of Jarda’s voice and the gorgeous tone that surrounds it.

Recorded over a year and a half and released in April, Good Luck Cartel is a perfect example of why the best things in life are worth waiting for. He’s put obvious thought into every aspect of the album, from the perfect arrangements to the well-woven instrumental layers. By some sort of magic there is a fantastic harmony of strings, piano, guitars, and vocals, creating a sound that is rich and moving and simply mystical. At times this feeling comes from the slow tempo of some of the songs; “Diving Bell” and “Piece of Fiction” are two examples that move along slowly and tenderly, with toe-tapping beats but sweet and heartfelt melodies. Jarda’s vocals stretch out, making the most of each beat and complementing any instrumental parts (piano, guitar, strings) that might move a bit faster, while also fitting well with the lyrics and mood. “Skinny Grass”, “Tendencies”, and “Into the Lake” offer heavier or more sad sounds than the other tracks, and he’s able to match his vocals to the sound to be more believable and powerful. He seems to have an incredible understanding of how to make good music, and whether this is a skill he learned along the way or something he was naturally blessed with, it’s the basis of everything to love about this album. It’s perfection, and has something for almost everyone and every mood.

Do your ears and your heart a favour and get this album. You will fall in love and fall hard, with both the album and Olivier Jarda. Is it his voice, the lyrics, the melodies, or the emotion? Who knows. Whatever it is, Good Luck Cartel is one of the best indie-folk albums around, and you will not regret any minute you spend with it.

To hear and buy Good Luck Cartel, visit Olivier Jarda’s website. Also visit his MySpace and Facebook pages to demand more music and look for upcoming shows. Everything about this album is fantastic, and this is a love that will continue to grow.

Olivier Jarda - "Good Luck Cartel"

Cousins – “A Palm At The End Of The Mind”

On their latest offering, A Palm At The End Of The Mind, Halifax trio (and sometimes duo) Cousins keep it as raw as their brand of off-kilter indie garage rock can get.

Recorded and produced mainly themselves, with the exception of a couple tracks, the songs on A Palm range from the punk-tinged drive of “Speech” to the slow-tempo, wistful “Thunder” to the straight-ahead blues rock of the album’s opener, “Jules”.

Though the album delivers an eclectic and quirky array of rhythms and emotions, they are all brought together by Aaron Mangle’s fragile, echo-drenched falsetto and his tasteful yet understated drumming, and the fuzzed-out, chunky chords that, at times, channel Chad Van Gaalen, and other times, Jack White.

A Palm At The End Of The Mind sees Cousins at their best on tracks like “Speech”, where the band is in complete control of the rollercoaster. Coming in like a slap in the face at about the 12-second mark, “Speech” sees the band take it from a full-on garage punk assault to a controlled and subdued breakdown, and back up again as Mangle’s spaced-out warble tries to cut through the fuzz.

“Secret Weapon”, another of the album’s standouts, sees Mangle declaring he’s “Come prepared for the long night” to a slightly syncopated backbeat and a simple, jangly riff that makes for sweet, toe-tapping pop goodness.

With their DYI approach, Cousins achieves the epitome of lo-fi production, almost to the point where Mangle’s vocals are washed out beyond comprehension at times. However, the appeal lies in the contrast between Mangle’s soft, almost timid delivery and the dirt and crunch of the guitars and drums, making for one of the better indie pop garage rock albums yet this year.

To preview and buy A Palm At The End Of The Mind (only $10!), check out their BandCamp page and Facebook. The band’s also playing at Calgary’s Sled Island festival this year (June 20-23), so check out the band’s performance schedule, tell your friends, and get out to see them.

For a taste of Cousins, listen to “Jules“:

Cousins - "A Palm At The End Of The Mind"

Long Weekends – “Don’t Reach Out”

Alongside the finely tuned and smoothly orchestrated sounds of modern rock and the uniformity of pop culture sits a growing trend of grungy garage pop. This isn’t the depressed sound of ’90s grunge or the bouncy castle version of rock, but somewhere in between, a reverb-filled and natural expression of good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. It sounds amazing, and a great example is the fantastic and hugely talented Long Weekends.

Another brilliant product of the Halifax music scene, Long Weekends has exploded onto the radar with a collection of super catchy tracks. Their 2011 collection “Don’t Reach Out” shows off strong song-writing and raw performance talent, pointing to the future of rock and helping to pave the way for bands with similar ambitions. They’re nothing too fancy; it’s not a masterpiece created by spot-on timing or attempted industry pandering. If anything, it’s Long Weekends’ lack of perfection that makes them stand out, creating an honest, real, and really interesting sound you swear could be coming from your neighbour’s garage.

Their sound has been compared to Jesus & The Mary Chain, Mission of Burma, and The Archies, and it’s easy to see where this comparison comes from. The music is completely guitar-driven, and although each piece of the band contributes to the music really well, it’s the guitar riffs that drive the tracks forward. A good example of this is “Quarter Sticks”, a slower but fun track with muted vocals and repeated guitar goodness. It’s refreshing for vocals to play a background role without overshadowing or fighting for attention, and by forcing the listener to pay attention to the actual music, Long Weekends does something unique and cool.

You’ve probably never heard anything quite like Long Weekends before. For a great sampling of their sound, check out their Bandcamp page. The track “Don’t Reach Out” is one of the best, totally repeatable and worthy of some public displays of air drumming. Listen to samples of all the band’s tracks, and better yet, download them to love them more. The downloads are free (if you want them to be. Love them a lot? Throw them some cash).

Long Weekends takes the sound of the past and is bringing it to the future. Check out their website, go on and like them, and keep the garage sound a-growin’!

Long Weekends - "Don't Reach Out"

Writers’ Strike – “Stay Down”

Why are the best albums always so damn short? Like the best romances, they never last long – you start to fall in love and then just like that, it’s over. No phone call, no warning, just a reminder of perfection echoed on repeat. It is nothing but a tease, an unfair taste of unfinished love.

All pouting aside, Stay Down, the brilliant albeit tortuous EP from Halifax-based Writers’ Strike, is simply fantastic. The EP’s three tracks (yes, only three) are awesome. They are clever, well-written and hard to forget, and despite its length, this album has everything. Catchy riffs, popsy and even dance-worthy beats, intelligent lyrics and completely stellar vocals round out each song, leaving little to be improved and nothing to change. How often does an album like this come along? It’s a struggle to find something negative to criticize, making this short romance even harder to get over and more difficult to replace.

Stylistically Writers’ Strike fits in the same category as Wolf Parade, Arcade Fire, and Modest Mouse, that high-spirited Indie-pop sound that is taking the world over. The band itself fits nicely into the niche of the “overeducated, underwhelmed and underpaid” (“Stay Down”), a familiar and indie-music loving fan base that will love the sound of Writers’ Strike. The band has clearly been influenced by some other incredible artists, but with their own style and direction, Writers’ Strike may be one of the best bands to come out of Nova Scotia in the past decade.

This is an album that you keep meaning to turn off, but it just doesn’t happen. “Just once more” turns into another two hours, and despite having only three tracks the album never gets tiresome. It’s a muted, classy, and interesting collection of songs that beg to be listened to again and again, and until their next album comes out, that’s what we’ll have to do.

Their debut full-length album will be released in early 2012, but for a taste of Writers’ Strike, download the EP’s title track “Stay Down” below. You can also stream each of the tracks on the band’s website. The band is also embarking on an Eastern Canada tour early next year, so follow Facebook and Pigeon Row PR religiously for regular updates. Writers’ Strike is damn good, and with so much left to show and do, this love affair is bound to go on.

MP3: “Stay Down” from Stay Down:

Writers' Strike - "Stay Down"