Lo­cal Discs

LO­CAL DISCS

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - > KATE WIL­SON

BEND SIN­IS­TER The Other Way (Cor­dova Bay)

Bend Sin­is­ter has been many 2

things over the years—jaunty rock ’n’ rollers, an­themic gut-bel­low­ers, and sul­try bal­ladeers. The Other Way suc­cess­fully takes all those el­e­ments and slots them to­gether into one slick record.

De­scrib­ing the col­lec­tion as “six songs of fun”, the band has hit the nail on the head. Open­ing the col­lec­tion with a Queen-es­que mas­ter­piece, the group shows its ap­ti­tude for tonguein-cheek pas­tiche with­out los­ing its own iden­tity.

“Get Along”, the sec­ond track, kicks the EP off proper. High-oc­tane drumming and honky-tonk key­board riffs jos­tle with a per­sis­tent bass line and sta­dium-fill­ing cho­rus, be­fore slid­ing into lead sin­gle “Walk the Other Way”—a track that sports an Imag­ine Dragons feel, but with in­fin­itely more swag.

“Rock and Roll”, on the other hand, re­turns to the band’s pro­cliv­ity for pas­tiche. With a cho­rus fea­tur­ing lyrics like “Rock ’n’ roll can’t be for­got­ten” and “We won’t lose our soul,” the self-ref­er­en­tial track re­calls clas­sics like AC/DC’S “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pol­lu­tion” or the Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ’n Roll”—all el­e­vated by singer Dan Moxon’s flaw­less vo­cals.

It’s cer­tainly am­bi­tious to nod to the greats. But with its ex­cel­lent mu­si­cian­ship and im­mac­u­late pro­duc­tion, The Other Way is never de­riv­a­tive, and in­jects new life into el­e­ments that de­fined rock bands of the past. > KATE WIL­SON

FUNNY DEATH

Half Present (In­de­pen­dent)

Sure, it’s pos­si­ble to ap­pre­ci­ate the mu­sic of Funny Death with­out know­ing any back­ground—but to re­ally get it, it’s worth dig­ging into his story.

Born Jad Mroue, the artist has roots in Le­banon, the Ivory Coast, and Burk­ina Faso, and fled a num­ber of war zones be­fore set­tling in Van­cou­ver. A no­madic soul, Mroue has been quoted as say­ing that na­tion­al­i­ties and fron­tiers don’t mat­ter to him—and that’s one of the rea­sons for the unique­ness of his mu­sic.

Heav­ily in­flu­enced by ’80s Ja­panese elec­tronic tracks—he lived in Ja­pan for a time—the pro­ducer cre­ates dreamy songs filled with med­i­ta­tive syn­the­siz­ers and oc­ca­sional re­verbed vo­cals. West­ern melodies and lyrics form the foun­da­tions of his songs, and each is aug­mented by Ja­panese scale flour­ishes. On his first Cana­di­an­writ­ten al­bum, the ex­pan­sive 19-track Half Present, Mroue has cre­ated a col­lec­tion that would sound per­fectly at home sound­track­ing the orig­i­nal Blade Run­ner movie or Ryan Gosling’s moody Drive—at once sat­ur­nine and sparkling with east­ern en­ergy.

Sure, it’s a niche part of cul­ture that few stum­ble across—but the genre still boasts an ar­dent fol­low­ing in the West. Mroue per­fectly taps into the scene, bor­row­ing mo­tifs from the era and trans­port­ing them into 2018 by float­ing them over glitchy funk bass lines in tracks like “Mis­s­wave” and the soul­ful bossa nova of “To­den Arakawa Line”. It might be miles away from main­stream EDM, but Half Present has plenty to hook elec­tronic-mu­sic afi­ciona­dos of all stripes.

Bend Sin­is­ter evokes Queen and the Stones with­out be­ing de­riv­a­tive.

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