I CAN USUALLY decide whether I like a song within the first five seconds of hearing it. When I popped Ask the Oracle in to my computer, with all the hope and excitement of a child about to unwrap a gift from Santa, I knew I was to be insanely disappointed.
Being in the office at the time, I quickly turned off the CD, unwilling to subject my coworkers to what was surely to be a unsatisfactory musical experience.
“Maybe it won’t be so bad,” I thought naively. But subconsciously I knew better, as I proceeded to miss deadline after deadline, forgetting the CD at the opposite end of the city.
A sense of foreboding was cast over my apartment as I finally sat down to listen on a cloudy Sunday. My instincts were not mistaken.
Ask the Oracle is background café music at best—and trust me, these moments are fleeting. Mostly it is a strained and sad amalgamation of uncomplimentary noises—and yes, I say noises, not sounds, for I fear it is the only word that can be used to properly describe what these instruments are producing.
“Before the Clouds Come” is a terrible melange of high-pitch flute, which I believe was only intended for dogs, xylophones, and percussions such as cymbals and maracas. While I can see what the band was trying to do—a sort of a exotic, jungle-inspired tune—the sound combination is just so poor it’s distracting. There is one part about half way through the song that has potential, but this corresponds with the moment the xylophones take over and the other noises fade into the background.
The next song opens to the strangled scream of a saxophone. Listening, I pictured a rowdy bar fight that ended with the shutting of a saloon door as the camera panned out over the desert … You know, one of those scenes adds absolutely NOTHING to a movie. Yea, ditto for the album.
The song after that is a confused jumble of percussions, sax, and harp keyboard, with a hint of oriental inspiration?
The one after that … I think you get the idea.
The album is poorly produced with a bad sound quality, making the already faltering instruments even worse.
Follow my lead—minus the listening part—and get on with your day forgetting this album even exists.
You’ve Changed Records
THE INDIE BAND Baby Eagle & The Proud Mothers is a name most people have never heard of. One listen to their latest release, Bone Soldiers, would leave you wondering why the Toronto rockers don’t get more recognition.
The band creates a unique sound in each of their songs, giving each track a different feel. “Bone Soldiers”, for instance, has a grunge rock sound with hard bass and drums, while “Brave Women” gives the listener a respite with its mellow tone, softer drums, and acoustic guitar.
The instrumentals and lyrics are strong parts of the record. Featuring astounding guitar solos, drum fills, and lyrical depth, Baby Eagle & The Proud Mothers croon about topics like love, crime, and war.
The vocal delivery needs work, as the lead singer’s voice is raspy and occasionally off-key. Despite this slip up, Bone Soldiers is an album that must be listened to by all music lovers.
DAVID NEWBERRY’S SOPHMORE album, questionably titled No One Will Remember You, is a fairly strong folk-rock album that seems to be at risk of living up to its own name. While Newberry’s vocals and instrumentation are solid and well matched, there isn’t a song or two that particularly grasps the listener’s attention to make the album memorable.
Newberry does an excellent job drawing on his Dylan and Springsteen influences, and his political lyrics are pointed without being stilted. “All of the Apples in the Basket” sounds like a reworking of one of Dylan’s protest songs and Newberry deserves praise for pulling this off effortlessly.
The eponymous “No One Will Remember You” stands out the most from the album—perhaps why it was chosen as the ironic, if unfortunate, title. The lyrics “No one will remember you / if you do it right” raises a couple of questions, but doesn’t really stand out.
It would seem that Newberry has created a self-fulfilling prophecy, finding a way to produce an album that’s well done but not necessarily memorable. With contributions from members of Deep Dark Woods, among others, the potential for another outstanding folk album from Western Canada was there—Newberry certainly has the talent—but as the songs bleed into each other and the chords begin to overlap, No One Will Remember You makes itself too easy to dismiss.
INDIE-POP ROCKERS BOXER the Horse will make your toes tap with their sophomore album French Residency, set to hit shelves on March 2012. This Prince Edward Island band has some great tunes that will leave you wondering what else is going to come from the Atlantic Canadian music scene.
Named Best New Band of 2010 by CBC Radio 3, Boxer the Horse does not disappoint with its new album. Tracks are catchy, cheerful, and fun. The band combines ‘60s garage, jangle-pop, and genuine Canadian content.
Upbeat and catchy songs like “Party Saturday” stick to you like glue. If it wasn’t for references to McGill, Prince Edward Island, and a bridge to the U.S., you would find yourself questioning if this music was really Canadian and not some undiscovered band from Brooklyn, N.Y.
This release is different from their first, Would You Please. They have altered their recording method and played with their style, producing a vintage feel on French Residency. The change in style shows this band would rather reinvent their music and mature than become stale on the Canadian music front.
Jeremy Gaudet (guitar and vocals), Andrew Woods (guitar and drums), Isaac Neily (keys and drums), and Christian Ledwell (bass) work together to produce an album that covers its bases with inspiring lyrics and tunes that stick with you even after you’ve turned your iPod off.