Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Four Part Harmony

Matthew from I Heart Music has been riding me for a little while to check out Jetplanes Of Abraham – the band who topped his 20 Hottest Bands In Ottawa poll and whom he manages… pure coincidence, I’m assured. But they’ve got a clever name for those of us who took eighth grade Canadian history and were playing a free show at the Horseshoe this past Tuesday, so I bit.

There’s a Toronto band I’ve seen and written about a few times in the past called The Ghost Is Dancing, whom I liken to Arcade Fire overdosed on cane sugar and crack. Jetplanes remind me of The Ghost Is Dancing on ritalin (and therefore of an Arcade Fire on cane sugar and crack and ritalin, if you need a more universal frame of reference). The six-piece possess a similar giddy streak and joy in making music, but are less anarchic about it – more focused.

With a rotation of lead singers and heavy on the instrument swapping – often within a song – the Jetplanes were a whirlwind of activity onstage. Though they dress their songs up with sounds that have become de rigueur for Canadian indie rock – keys, violin, glockenspiel, melodica, extra snare drums, handclaps, shouted background vocals – underneath all that, the songwriting is fundamentally strong and they possess natural pop instincts that comes across quite strongly on their just-released debut self-titled full-length. Anchored by a very solid rhythm section (no matter who was playing bass at the time), their live show was quite good with some really excellent moments near the end of the set where they really began to coalesce into something joyous and special.

I’ve also had some time to spend with their album which has allowed me to offer a more considered assessment of the band. Clocking in at a compact 34 minutes (even more compact if you remove the three “interlude” instrumental bridging pieces), Jetplanes manage to cover a lot of stylistic ground from the pure pop of “Four Part Harmony” to the almost-disco groove of “Not Tonight” and the violin-lovely centrepiece “Complications, Fascination & Quitting Your Job”, yet sounding cohesive all the while. Rick Devereux, who takes the majority of lead vocals, has an interesting voice – sort of a cross between a holler and a croon – that I want to compare to a more powerful John Darnielle, despite the fact that I don’t think he really sounds anything like Darnielle. If I’ve a complaint, it’s what I stated earlier – the production and aesthetic they’re embracing is very much like what a lot of other young Canadian bands are going for these days and to my ears, at least, there’s not a whole lot of distance left to ride on that particular horse. Someday soon, someone is going to have to strike out and craft something new – I nominate Jetplanes Of Abraham.

Photos: Jetplanes Of Abraham @ The Horseshoe – November 14, 2006
MP3: Jetplanes Of Abraham – “Four Part Harmony”
MP3: Jetplanes Of Abraham – “Complications, Fascination & Quitting Your Job”
MySpace: Jetplanes Of Abraham

Thanks to For The Records for pointing out that another fine Ottawa band, The Acorn, will be opening up for Elliott Brood at Lee’s Palace on December 15. It will be a CD release party for their new EP Tin Fist, which is quite nice.

NOW and The Ottawa Sun talk to Murray Lightburn of The Dears, kicking off a three-night stand at Lee’s Palace tonight. They also tell The Toronto Sun, in no uncertain terms, how they felt about V-Fest. Update: Apparently the terms were more uncertain than reported – the band has printed a retraction of their harsh words towards V Fest on their website. I’m not sure how that quote can really be misconstrued, but okay.

Radio Free Canuckistan is the new blog of local music scribe Michael Barclay, whose work can be found in eye and Exclaim!, amongst other places, and on his site he’s offering up the full transcripts of his interviews before they’re edited down for final publication. I really enjoy this form of interview presentation as it generally gives a far better sense of the personality and headspace of the interviewee. In his latest posts, Barclay focuses on Mr Owen Pallett, aka Final Fantasy, presenting the interviews with Pallett and those that know him that would become the June 2006 Exclaim! cover story.

Though the 2006 concert calendar is pretty much run its course (thank God), it’s not done just yet – Howe Gelb will be at Lee’s Palace on December 17 – why he’s leaving warm and sunny Arizona in mid-December to come up to Canada is beyond me, but I’m glad for the news. I was kind of afraid that I’d have nothing to do next month. And looking to next year, a bit of a mish-mash bill in Snow Patrol, Silversun Pickups and OKGO are at the Ricoh Coliseum on March 31.

MSNBC is beguiled by Under Byen, who were wonderful opening for Gelb as Giant Sand last month at Pop Montreal.

Aversion reports that Neko Case’s 2003 set for Austin City Limits, already out on DVD, will be released on CD on January 9. You can watch one of the performances below, don’t know the name of the song unfortunately.

Video: Neko Case – “Behind The House” on Austin City Limits (YouTube) – thanks Cindy!

This BBC piece on Billy Bragg’s thoughts on the internet and digital music neglects to mention that though he did pull his music from MySpace in protest of their intellectual property policies, they did amend their legalese and you can once again befriend Billy at MySpace and listen to his tuneage there.

By : Frank Yang at 9:00 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Roland says:

    Wow! Jetplanes of Abraham is excellent, thanks so much for the introduction. I saw Hiltrons (#2 on the Ottawa list) at the Bluesfest over the summer, and I’m much more partial to Jetplanes.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. barclay says:

    thanks for the shout-out! and being a fan of ghost is dancing and all yr other reference points therein, i’m curious about this jetplanes to abraham band.

  3. cindyhotpoint says:

    That Neko Case song’s called "Behind the House."

    Amazing — I’m in a bunch of crowd shots on this DVD, but not on this clip. Dang. (;

  4. mike says:

    The only thing I can assume with The Dears confusion re: their V-Fest experience is that their drummer Donoso, who was interviewed by The Toronto Sun, was shooting off his mouth about his own view of the festival and the Toronto Sun misconstrued his views as those of the entire band. Or maybe Aaron’s right – http://popwherry.blogspot.c

  5. travis says:

    Definitely looking forward to hearing Jetplanes full album. All the tracks Ive heard so far sound fantastic. And such a nice band, theyre sending me a copy for free!