Tag Archives: Vancouver

The Stone Pines – “Landmark”

Sometimes one can pigeonhole artists or bands into tight little genre- or subgenre-specific boxes in order to describe their particular sound. Other times, though, the most accurate portrayal of a band’s sound is describing how it feels. In the case of the genre-blending Vancouver band The Stone Pines and their newest release, Landmark, it’s all about ‘The Feel’.

Though one could roughly call The Stone Pines a rock band, it wouldn’t really scratch the surface of what this quintet actually does. Singer Josh Larsson and guitarists Ryan Krumins and Corey Fenton create a brand of sound that seamlessly stretches into the realms of blues, funk, and reggae and bears soul that provides much of that feel to Landmark. Longtime musical collaborators, Larsson, Krumins and Fenton are joined by bassist Clark Buchanan and drummer “Slick” Tim Watson with the result being a tight, cohesive, and fluid group with top notch musicianship and a dynamic and engaging sound that can take you through the gamut of emotions.

Larsson’s commanding vocals take the lead throughout the eight-song effort and provide much of the emotion and intensity prevalent on the album. Recorded and produced by Eric Mosher (Franz Ferdinand, AC/DC) live off the floor at Warehouse Studios in Vancouver, Landmark’s opener, “Murder’s Row” shows off the band’s terrific dynamics, jumping from its blues rock beginnings to a laid-back reggae groove chorus and back, while Larsson’s powerful and earnest delivery brings the intensity up and down. On tracks like “Wild Child Style”, Larsson’s delivery is perfectly complemented by the band’s knack for knowing how and when to kick it up a notch and when to bring it down to a low simmer. On the soulful “Stone Colored Grey”, one of the album’s standouts, Larsson delivers ominous warnings about trouble coming his way as the band knocks out a darkly funky jam, while on the rocking “Rollin’ Train”, Larsson confidently declares he’s not going to ‘waste one night’ on his troubles as the band bashes out a stomping, fist-pounding groove. On the album’s closer, “Close Your Eyes”, distant, haunting slide guitar underlays a funky, reggae-infused groove as Larsson’s vocals plaintively soar above, dripping with that “Feel”.

Named after a good friend of the band, Landmark is an album that invites you to experience the feelings of life’s highs and lows and the struggles and triumphs that come. Boasting considerable skill as musicians and songwriters, The Stone Pines’ soul lies in the way they can easily communicate the ‘Feel’ with which everyone can identify and relate.

Check out The Stone Pines and listen to Landmark on Bandcamp, Facebook, and on their official website. The band is also hitting the road in August and will be playing at Broken City in Calgary on August 16th. Known for putting on an energetic and engaging live performance, this is one show to not be missed.

The Stone Pines - "Landmark"

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"

The Lost Lovers Brigade – “Little Skeletons”

Regionalism is strong in Canada, and the same can be said for Canadian music. Province to province and coast to coast, music takes on different influences and driving forces, making for regionally diverse sounds and unique genres. West coast music, for example, is often recognized as having more folky roots and ties to nature. With a nostalgic feel and rootsy undertones, Vancouver’s The Lost Lovers Brigade is a perfect representation of West Coast folk rock: mellow, intelligent, and hauntingly beautiful.

Like many other Vancouver-based bands, The Lost Lovers Brigade doesn’t fit into any specific genre, and their 2011 release “Little Skeletons” is a collection of 11 songs with a variety of influences and a clear coastal BC flavour. It has a real “hippie” vibe, a sort of dreamy, acid-washed mix of folk and indie rock that brings up images of flowy guitar sing-alongs by the ocean. Lead singer Elisha May Rembold has a beautiful and haunting voice, and the mourning tone of her voice is perfect for the emotional and heartfelt lyrics that make up each song. She’s almost theatrical in her singing, not in that she’s fakely dramatic but in the sense that her voice perfectly matches the emotions of each song. This is what makes the album so beautiful and easy to become lost in, and what puts Rembold head and shoulders above so many other vocalists.

It’s not just the lead vocals that stand out, however. Beautiful harmonies abound, and the contributions of the other pieces (including the usual guitars and percussion but also the very cool organ and tambourine) have an equally powerful effect. It would be interesting to hear more of these other elements, as they seem to bring something really special on their own.

There really is nothing typical about this album, and that’s what makes it so good. It is worth listening to a few times, at different times of day, both in the background and with full attention. The Lost Lovers Brigade has been a highly sought-after commodity in Vancouver, and “Little Skeletons” shows why this is so. Listen to and buy the album on Bandcamp (only $10) and then become wonderfully lost in the sounds of the West Coast.

The Lost Lovers Brigade - "Little Skeletons"