Noise 101: CD Reviews for Oct. 10
My Prairie Home
Saved by Music
Born and raised in Alberta, singer/songwriter/author Rae Spoon has a unique story to tell about growing up as a queer person in a decidedly religious family. Released in conjunction with a documentary of the same title, My Prairie Home is a beautiful album that leaves listeners haunted by Spoon’s story. With influences from various genres – including folk, country, grunge, and gospel – My Prairie Home is a mix of instrumental and vocal tracks that will stay with listeners long after the album is finished. Tracks like “Sunday Dress,” and “Cowboy” soft and almost melancholic, blend seamlessly with the ambience of instrumental tracks such as “Birds Take Off,” or “Church”. This provides a subtle contrast to the slightly more upbeat tracks like “I Will be a Wall”, which adds a nice balance to the album. My Prairie Home is both a snapshot of Spoon’s experience and a gift to listeners.
Hidden Pony Records
“Catchy” might be the best word used to describe Said The Whale’s fourth full-length album, hawaiii. Tracks like “I Love You” and “Mother” leave you dancing like no one is watching, and “Resolutions” finishes with an interesting, yet unexpected verse by Ontario hip-hop artist Shad. Though still familiar, the band has strayed even further from their original folk-pop, I-love-Vancouver feel, releasing a set of tracks with an up-beat dance vibe and a more polished sound than their earlier work. While change can be good, the new album takes away some of their trademark quirkiness that was seen previously in tracks such as “Plans for the Future” from 2008’s Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia or “Out on the Shield” from 2009’s Islands Disappear. If you keep an ear out for it, that sound might still be there — or maybe hawaiii needed that extra ‘i’ to compensate.
It’s not often that you come across a wonderful hybrid of country and pop, but Coalition by Kim Wempe is just that. This album is a collection of stories told through song, though each story is told in its own very unique way. Some tracks off this album speak to major life experiences, like “Go back” — a song about wanting to return to normalcy after significant change. Though other tracks don’t have as much meaning to them, they are still enjoyable: “Never Promised You Nothing”, for example, is a perfect blend of instrumental genius that really complements the country/pop mix. Coalition makes pleasant use of unusual instruments that are not normally found in country, such as the ukulele. It is a worthy listen if “unusually nice” is what you’re after.