BY ERIC STACEY
Matthew Good – Chaotic Neutral
Warner Music Canada
It has been two years since Matthew Good released Arrows of Desire, an album that had Good going back to a more straightforward rock sound as opposed to 2011’s orchestral Lights of Endangered Species and the sprawling, atmospheric Vancouver in 2009.
In the year 2015, Good is returning to his signature sound.
Chaotic Neutral is equal parts rock, singer-songwriter, indie, and atmospheric. If you are familiar with any of his past work, then the songs on this album will feel familiar, if not a little expected. An example of this is the album opener “All You Sons and Daughters.” This is not a bad song by any rights. There’s a cool guitar riff, it’s moody, and you can immediately identify it as a Matthew Good song – which is probably why it was chosen as the lead single off of the album. However, this song, and several others that follow, seem to be so identifiable as songs written by Good that they simply wash over the listener.
“Moment” is an uptempo acoustic number accented with an interesting lead piano part. The album slows down with “Kid Down the Well” and picks up again at “No Liars,” giving the album a little punch with lead guitar riffs and Good’s signature harmonies.
“Harridan” is an interesting song with sad piano parts that begins to ramp up around the two minute mark and start to really rock with Good yelling “go on, clip my wings.” The sixth track, “Tiger By the Tail,” mellows things out again – but not for the worse. The soft and sad song is very peaceful sounding. This and “Harridan” prove that Good has a gift for song writing and helps cement his status as a great Canadian talent.
“Girls in Black” could almost be written off as a classic Good rock song, if it weren’t for the occasional guitar leads that contain a hint of the Pixies, and the breakdown where Good starts frantically talking and eventually yelling at the four minute mark.
Next, fellow Canadian Holly McNarland joins Good for a cover of Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting.” McNarland’s and Good’s voices go well together but otherwise nothing really makes it stand out. Much is the same with “Cold Water” which is piano driven and sad but ultimately forgettable.
“Army of Lions” is a captivating rock song with verses that sound like they came straight from the 80’s. The song becomes more interesting when compared to the album’s last track “Los Alamos,” which is much slower and very atmospheric.
Chaotic Neutral is not a bad album by any means. Standout tracks like “Harridan”, “Tiger by the Tail,” and “Girls in Black” in particular are shining examples of the music that Good can create; however most of the album material is simply “good.” Longtime fans won’t feel cheated by this new effort and should gladly add it to their collection, but anyone listening to the album shouldn’t let their expectations get too high.
Pick up the album here: http://matthewgood.store-08.com/
EVOKE is the latest EP from Toronto-based electronic duo Snowday. As their name suggests, their music is more relaxed and in listening to it, one can’t help but feel like they’re at home with nowhere to go – in the best way possible. Snowday very masterfully craft songs that are a welcome change from a genre that can at times suffer from overproduction and unnecessary sampling. Core members Cam Sloan and Chad Skinner play several instruments each and carefully piece them together to create an atmospheric sound that would help the most overstressed person unwind.
The EP opens with “Ceremony” which showcases Snowday’s atmospheric sound and guides the listener in with a gradual build. The second track “Detour” is longer than the previous song, but continues Sloan and Skinner’s layering which creates an interesting groove around the two minute mark. This song is reminiscent of Atoms for Peace.
The title track “Evoke” is the most compelling part of the EP. It starts and stops repeatedly with haunting piano notes gradually added more and more to the song as the progresses. Songs like this are what set Snowday apart from other contemporaries in this genre.
I can’t wait to hear more from this Calgary four piece.
Get the track here: https://theshiverettes.bandcamp.com/album/stephen-harper-suck-my-dick
Sounds of Stories – The Voyage
Sounds of Stories have gone from playing open mics to headlining showcases, and now – to CD release parties. Their style can best be described as indie folk, but to lump them into the current folk revival would be a mistake. The Ottawa-based group write music that contains pop, rock, and singer-songwriter elements which help separate them from the slew of bands appropriating this sound.
Their debut album opens with the introductory track “Protector.” Starting slow, this song is a good way for anyone to familiarize themselves with the band. “Voyage I” is where things start to kick off, continuing into the more upbeat “Voyage II.” Intricate mandolin work is featured heavily on this track, but it is the violin that is the star of these two pieces.
“Where is Your Smile” is, as the title suggests, a sad song. Lead singer, Vanessa Luis’ voice is showcased very well on this song; especially during the final minute of the song. The music takes a happier tone on “Hey You” which is one of the standout tracks of the album. It’s poppy, and insanely catchy, with very romantic lyrics. If it was a couple of beats slower it would serve well as the perfect wedding song. It stands in stark contrast to the ballad “Mother” – a track as sad as they come. Guitarist Billy Burns takes the lead on this one, and sings about not going home and thanking his mom for putting up with him over the years. It’s sweet and brutally sincere which makes the song even more endearing.
The band’s first release closes with the uptempo “Not My Home.” With its quick pace, and large harmonies, it is a fitting end which encompasses the band’s overall sound very well.
Sounds of Stories have proved that there can still be originality in the indie folk world and The Voyage is a fine offering from the Ottawa group and will give them strong legs to stand on as they continue to make strides in the music community.
Pick up the band’s first release here: https://soundsofstories.bandcamp.com/