SOME NEW MUSIC
This year's headliners are Kings of Leon, Jane's Addiction and Ben Harper, and there will be plenty of other good acts supporting them, including Nine Inch Nails, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Erykah Badu, M83 and The Decemberists, just to name a few. Demetri Martin will be at the comedy tent, and there has been a dance tent added this time (to showcase bands like Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, and Chromeo). Bands I am most excited about seeing this time are Doves, Silversun Pickups and Explosions In The Sky.
Doves and Silversun Pickups released new CDs during the past couple of weeks. I wanted to get both so I could familiarize myself with some of the new material before seeing the bands at Sasquatch
DOVES - KINGDOM OF RUST - ****1/2
"Kingdom Of Rust" is an excellent album for those who like creative song arrangements, great vocals, and good musicianship in a slightly-arty rock format. Doves' music is radio-friendly but not to the point of being out-and-out "pop". It has enough of an edge that it retains personality in spades. There are very few moments where I lose interest when listening to this one.
The opening track "Jetstream" is a mix of real and synthetic beats, backing a nice mix of guitars and synths in a song that really locomotes. The synths actually recall those from Steve Miller Band's hit single "Fly Like An Eagle". The title track is a gorgeous ballad, lushly arranged, with personal pain coming through in the exquisite singing of Jimi Goodwin.
"The Outsiders" starts off with tempestuous drums and synth sequencer before evolving into a high-intensity guitar-driven piece. Nobody can tell me the Doves didn't listen to some Who before devising the intro to "Winter Hill"; it is one of the more atmospheric numbers. I want my band to cover this tune! It is nice and circular, very well-crafted.
"10:03" starts off as a ballad before becoming something Coldplay could only imagine pulling off in the intensity department. "The Greatest Denier" is heartfelt sadness about the decline of England, clothed in an atmospheric mid-tempo piece: "So go to sleep citizen, we'll wake you when we're done."
While the album rocks at times, much of it is also carried about at a leisurely pace. That isn't to say there is not also power in the slower tunes. "Birds Flew Backwards" is a very creative slow number with soothing sounds. Reverb-drenched backing vocals and strings frame Goodwin's lonesome voice.
"Spellbound" is a classic Doves number in 6/8 time, complete with acoustic guitars and majestic keyboards and a lovely guitar line that weaves in and out through the choruses. Songs like this were what made up much of the meat of Doves' first two discs.
I'm less enamoured with the song "Compulsion". While it still feels organic, there is almost an industrial feel to it. Not all a bad thing, and the track is growing on me the more I hear it. You will find both good vocal harmonies and unison singing in the chorus of "House of Mirrors", a tune which might lend itself well to an arena. In this tune, the musicianship of the band members really shines through. The closing number "Lifelines" has a near-Beatles feel in places.
Vocalist Jimi Goodwin is the band's bassist, and brother Jez plays guitars. Andy Williams (not the crooner who sang "Moon River"!) is the drummer. The unofficial "fourth member" of the band is keyboardist Martin Rebelski, who I expect will be onstage with Doves at Sasquatch.
During the next few weeks I will be posting some other items about bands that will also be at Sasquatch, among them Sun Kil Moon and Explosions In The Sky.