Contrived - Blank, Blank, Blank

Contrived

Blank, Blank, Blank

Hand Drawn Dracula

Another Canadian band that released a new album last November without me being made aware. On Friday morning the daily listing of city events came across my Google Reader with the highlight being a Bluenoser act I hadn’t thought of in awhile. Contrived released Dead Air Verbatim in 2005 and then supported Wintersleep on tour, which makes sense since they share four of the five members with the suddenly popular act. Since they took off, the pre-Wintersleep formed Contrived was tossed to the wayside with an intention of the hiatus not becoming a break-up.

So Blank, Blank, Blank re-introduces their indie rock to the Canadian landscape. Mixed by David Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Los Campesinos!), this album finds increased diversity over its predecessor which was chock full of the crunchy riffs. While there’s still Fugazi post-hardcore aggression, moody tremolo on “Firing Squad” and “Keepsake” (Dredg? GY!BE?) and intertwining guitars bring a lighter sound more akin to The Constatines’ best driving tunes. The songs are instrumental in nature with minimal vocals that feature the odd esoteric lyric (“When a loving son commits matricide/Will you be there to break our fall?”) thrown in to spice it up. Given the overlap with Wintersleep, there are obvious comparisons to be made (“Celebrate” could be mistaken as a straight-up B-side), but the eight song/35 minute run-time creates an identity that is uniquely Contrived (oh clever band name, you create puns that write themselves.)

Bruce Peninsula - A Mountain is a Mouth

Bruce Peninsula

A Mountain is a Mouth

self-released

Their blog hype-o-meter has been in the red for months now, although its not as severe as other acts. This Toronto collective has a core group of songwriters with additional friends along for the ride in choir form. Vocal harmonies, pounding percussion, and varied instrumentation allow them to carry paradoxical grandiose intimacy that few acts (such as The Arcade Fire) can pull off. You’ll find chain-gang tunes with secular gospel-like anthems and old blues carried by that inevitable post-rock tag. If you’re thinking The Polyphonic Spree, this crew is without the whole happy-go-lucky creepy pop cult thing. The moods are balanced and the results may leave you deliriously satisfied.

I’ll be at their CD release show on February 22nd and I hope for the following, but with rock’n’roll shenanigans to pull the awesome into crazy awesome.

Telefon Tel Aviv - Immolate Yourself

Telefon Tel Aviv

Immolate Yourself

BPitch Control

Their first two albums, Fahrenheit Fair Enough and Map of What is Effortless, went from instrumental glitch post-rock to vocal-filled glitch soul, so they logically decided to travel in the direction of clean, but dark, synthpop. The retro single “Helen of Troy” that was previewed online months back showing hints of choruses and catchy refrains but there are only a few pieces here that lean toward traditional pop songs, with the duration dominated by plenty of ambient passages and hip-hop beat-filled sound collages. The difference from past productions lies in less use of cut-up techniques that made TTA a shining beacon in the inconsistent and cluttered field of electronic music.

Known for their meticulous attention to detail, even for their remixes (A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails, various artists on Hefty Records) and collaborations (The Album Leaf, Black Light Burns), these signatures are still present even without excessively designed glitches. Their tension evokes the moody 80s synthpop of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark with whispered vocals and passing synths flowing through as an unattainable vapour passing. It’s an improvement on Junior Boys’ minimalism, but man, the opening song’s video clip is excessively ultra-violent.

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