Monday, August 28, 2006

Musical Monday - album review

Today’s Musical Monday is an album review – “The Fall Parade,” by the Anderson Council.

Don't just stare at my picture - go buy me!
The Fall Parade is the Anderson Council’s first full album, or their second, or their fourth overall release, depending on who’s doing the counting. They say “two,” so we’ll go with that; but “Coloursound” is out of print so if you want to start your collection, this is the place, and it’s a good place to begin.

With the first track, “Beautiful,” two things stand out at once – the retro sound (think 60’s pop crossed with a little new wave) and the working-class English inflection to Peter Horvath’s vocals. The band claims that the songs just sound better that way – they’re actually from New Jersey: Horvath (lead vocals, guitars, and keyboard), Jimmy Charles (guitars and keyboard), Robert Farrell (bass), and Joe Chyb (drums). Given the style of the music they may have a point, though the Anglicized spellings may strike you as a little affected, and a whole album’s worth of twanging gives moments where you wish they’d sing it straight.

That feeling comes and goes, however. What stands out after repeat listening is that the Anderson Council has a taste for a good hook: the circular guitar lines on “Partridge,” the excellent backup vocals and harmonies, and the trumpet on “Pretty People” (handled by guest musician Spiff Wiegand). Even the handclaps in “Meghan Allison” are spot-on. It’s also fun to trace the influences in the sound, even when the lyrics aren’t dropping obvious nods such as in “Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours” and “What Do You Know.” For example, the opening of “Mind Elevator” carries a whiff of the Stones, and the harmonies on “Partridge” make it sound like a lost Joe Jackson song.

Highlights are everywhere. “Meghan Allison,” “Archie’s Theme,” “Pinkerton,” and “Strawberry Smell” are great, bouncy pop songs, and the band just sounds like they had fun laying down the tracks – they don’t suffer from overproduction or excessive sweetening. You also get a sense of depth in the sound without it being overly intricate. The only real disappointment if you’re a fan is the absence of “Night and Day,” an excellent song from “the Debt EP” that didn’t get into the lineup. (Next time, guys.) There are only a few moments (such as “Partridge”) where they demonstrate a slower sound, so hopefully there will be some of that variety in the next.

*** (of four)

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