Thursday, March 12, 2009

February Gems: RPM 09 finds Part 2

Here is part 2 of my series of reviews of outstanding RPM releases that aren't mine. Some of my favorite artists that I know have their album finished (Black Molly, Mopey Mumble Mouse, Justin Guzzwell etc..) still haven't gotten around to uploading it to the Jukebox so I will have to wait until they do before I can write my unsolicited reviews. In the meantime here are some people I can talk about, a couple of them I haven't heard of until today. Click the album covers to here their albums.

Errand Boy the main recording project of Bryan Melanson, is an act getting a good bit of a following in St John's and beyond for his ingenious and stunning recorded work such as last self titled full length album "Errand Boy" (highly recommended). This year he completed a rpm album that changes up the formula a bit, more organic and less sample driven then his previous indie electronica. The textures are rich as always and the songs carefully crafted and structured with more emphasis on atmospherics and meditative spaces. It opens with the quite grand "Ghostride The Relationship" and the songs song flow into each quite naturally throughout. If anything is an issue it's that it flows a bit too smoothly, while the mood pieces are quite rich and tasty there could be a few more distractions and auditory hurdles thrown in throughout to keep the listener from drifting off completely. Still quite a rich audio banquet for a months work.

A familiar face on the downtown scene; solo 12 string instrumentalist Dan Ficken took this February to record his first album "From Tanks to Tractors". It is a nice meditative outing that showcases Dan's lush and nuanced playing, and it also showcases something most people familiar with Dan Fickens work wouldn't expect; that is Dan's singing. I don't think Dan is that used to it either, but his voice is soft and friendly enough that it works. I'm listening to it here at work (I'm also writing this when I should be working, but what odds) and this is an ideal relaxation and ignoring-the-disgusting-office-work-piling-up-and-destroying-your-precious-youth-before-you-ever-really-got-to-enjoy-it disc.

Philippa Gun looks kinda familiar but I'm pretty sure I've never heard or met her before. But her album has some sweet arrangements and she is blessed with quite a nice voice. Her songs are gentle and pastoral in the vein of a more sedated Feist, but her voice doesn't annoy me as much as Feist's does. She does get a bit overly precious with her delivery and lyrics at times but rarely over the line that makes me want to cast her out to the disposal bin with all the Chantal Kreviazuk CD's (ocassionally her voice takes on that kind adult contemporary sheen and that's deffinitely something she should steer clear of if she can help it).

Ryan Taylor is another artist I've never heard of until I randomly clicked his link on the RPM website. Apparently an ex patriot St. John'ser currently in the Alberta way. I gotta say I'm impressed with his album "Transnational Fidelity" (I'm not so impressed with it's title). Being in a familiar category of "one man band recording studio" the arrangements are rich luscious things with tender and vivid guitar work abounding. The album isn't 100% consistent throughout, Ryan's voice being a bit of a bone of contention here and there drifting into whiny white boy singer-songwriter territory, but he more then makes up for this in shear production creativity and musicianship. A nice surprise find.