P.S. I LOVE YOU /
THE stellar debut record from the Kingston duo of Paul Saulnier (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards) and Benjamin Nelson (drums), Meet Me at the Muster Station, set the bar high for the band’s followup. Death Dreams fulfils that promise in many ways, with stronger, more propulsive, more nuanced songs that still sound as if they’re on the verge of a glorious, scrappy indie-rock meltdown. There’s just one drawback. Saulnier is not the strongest vocalist, but his passionate, ragged whoop worked on Meet Me. On Death Dreams, however, he seems to have given up any attempt to hit the notes squarely and resorts to indiscriminate yelping. It’s not clear whether it’s an affectation or a lack of ability, but either way, it’s often sorely to the songs’ detriment.
It’s too bad, because there are so many meaty melodies on Death Dreams that are begging to be belted out (Saulnier’s vocals are mostly mercifully buried in the mix). With its lovely, liquid guitars, Don’t Go has the passionate melancholy of a new wave love song, and Future Dontcare could be the feel-sad hit of the summer.
And on the plus side, when Saulnier lets his guitar do the singing, whether it’s a snarling J. Mascis-style assault or a more intricate, chiming affair, it’s a thing of beauty. ½ BESIDES having cool band and label monikers, former Waltons’ singersongwriter Jason Plumb has created a likable album that any fan of sincere Canuck pop rock should get behind. With a hot cast of guest musicians and singers (including members of Barenaked Ladies, Chic Gamine, Rush and Shuffle Demons) Plumb offers a charming combination of tight rockers and sincere ballads on these 11 well-produced tracks.
There is a little something for everyone here whether it’s soaring lap steel and strings ( Under A Gun, Falling Star) or half-remembered Jackson Browne riffs ( Alone With You) the band works up plenty of magic. And if you are looking for a new style Kim Mitchell-esque bar room rocker, All By Myself kicks out more than a little jam in that direction.
Thoughtful lyrics and melodies abound here and Plumb keeps his songs just as real as they need to be. Recommended.
½ KENNY Garrett acknowledges his influences on this 10-track disc of new compositions, a mainly post-bop outing that sizzles in the hands of the saxophonist with the stinging tone.
J. Mac, a tribute to the great alto saxophonist Jackie Mclean, is the best of a good bunch as Garrett sprints through the tune. Detroit is an emotional ballad, made intentionally to sound like an old scratchy LP, in homage to Garrett’s home town, intensified by wordless vocals by Nedelka Prescod. Haynes Here is a waltzing nod to drummer Roy Haynes, while the title track features Garrett on some athletic soprano sax.
This set is the melodic Garrett in top form. DEAN Brody is one of few acts embraced by country radio that actually sounds country. Amid the sonic embellishments of fiddles, mandolins and Dobros, the British Columbia native expounds on the virtues of rural routes, pretty girls, fishin’ poles, returning troops, barbecues, sharing sleeping bags and dirt, of course.
He applauds the music of Bob Marley, yet thankfully forgoes the usual faux reggae many of his contemporaries succumb to. Brody really hits pay dirt with Canadian Girls, a track celebrating how the most northerly of the fairer sex love hockey and Gordon Lightfoot while looking sexy in a tuque!
There are a few disappointments and one of the biggest is It’s Friday where Brody goes Country and Eastern with Great Big Sea contributing vocals, accordion, bouzouki and bodhran. You’d expect a lively kitchen party, but instead it moves like its early Saturday morning and you’re hung right over.