Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mr. G's Song of the Week - "Casablanca" and "The Valley Town"

I'd like to begin this installment of Song of the Week by apologizing to my throngs of loyal readers for missing last week's post. It's something I hope does not happen often, but sometimes life (including a wedding in Ottawa, awesome white water rafting on the Ottawa river, and spending the night attempting to sleep on the floor of an empty classroom with sugar-riddled children running through the halls well into the early hours of the morning) gets in the way. Hopefully you'll forgive me. To make it up to ya'll, I've decided to make this week's SOTW a Polaris Prize double bill.

Perhaps you're like me and you haven't heard of some of the bands that have made the short list for this year's prestigious Polaris Prize. Instead of using this as an opportunity to verbally berate the bloggers and journalists who decide upon the nominees for said award, I look at it as a chance to get into some new Canadian music that is likely to be very, very good. As predicted, I've been pleasantly surprised by some of what I've come across during my recent Polaris Prize-inspired musical forays.

My first of two selections this week is "Casablanca" off of the album Labyrinthes, the latest by Montreal band, Malajube. The largest city in Quebec has been a breeding ground for some the best music Canada has to offer in recent years. The Arcade Fire, Plants and Animals, and Patrick Watson (winner of the Polaris Prize in 2007 and once again nominated this year) immediately come to mind. What makes Malajube different, and especially impressive, is their ability to cross over to English audiences while sticking to their francophone roots. All of their songs are written and performed in French. Enjoy the beautiful layerings of sound and the orchestral rock vibe that "Casablanca" has to offer. The language barrier should not adversely affect your listening experience.
[mp3] Malajube - Casablanca

The SSOTW (second Song of the Week), although in no particular order, is "The Valley Town" by hometown boys (I'm from Toronto), Elliott Brood. It comes off of their newest album, Mountain Meadows. To be perfectly honest, I'm not quite sure what to make of this band. Their country-tinged rock stylings are impressively catchy at points, but at others, things just don't seem to click. In part, I think it's because lead singer Mark Sasso's gritty vocals don't jive with the type of melodic music the band produces. His throaty howls seem better suited to a more "hardcore" genre. That being said, "The Valley Town" is a wonderfully captivating, ukelele-driven ditty that'll have you snapping your fingers in no time. The singing is slightly more subdued on this one, and in a classic case of less is more, it adds to the song's tastiness. Bon appetit!

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