It’s the day before our family Turkey Day, of which, I am responsible for preparing this year uh-gain! You can click HERE for a recap on how this all went down three years ago. God help us all. This evening, since Kelly laid down the gauntlet, I even made butternut squash tacos (click HERE) and it was a rousing success. Success being that I didn’t burn the place down and nobody got food poisoning. However, now, I’m being rewarded with an evening to myself while Kelly works and HRH sleeps over at grandma and grandpa’s so later I’m going to watch a Halloween scary movie (which I never get to do) with a huge ass bowl of popcorn. First, however, I’m catching up on my latest book ‘Eating Vietnam: Dispatches from a Blue Table‘ by Graham Holliday, drinking a pint of Polar Pumpkin ale from the Barnstormer Brewing Co. and listening to the limited edition white vinyl (on 45 rpm) by the Luya’s, ‘Animator‘. How very autumn of me, right?
This is the third album by Montreal-based alt-rockers (recorded and produced at the Treatment Room), released in 2012 on Paper Bag Records and ended up short-listed for the for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize. Until a month ago, I had never heard of the band and only opted to purchase the album to make up a $50 limit on the Paper Bag Records “Summer End Clearance Sale” and qualify myself for a free t-shirt. I can be impulsive, I know.
As rumor has it, The Luyas went into the studio on a February morning with the plan of getting some drum sounds to start writing songs for a new album. As the mics were going up, the band received a phone call. There had been a sudden death. The incomprehensible event left the band in an existential daze and this album is the ultimate end result. It’s an unfortunate and interesting premise for an album as any I’ve ever heard.
The first song, the nearly nine-minute ‘Montuno‘ starts by laying out its soft keys and synths, then develops into an entirely separate movement with complex string arrangements that sounds both menacing and oddly comforting. The rhythm section doesn’t come in for almost three minutes, around the same time lead singers Jessie Stein’s haunting vocals come in. The layers are exposed one by one here, showing us the elements that will combine to make that song and the rest of the tunes on this solid album. It’s a great start to an album and this evening. The wafting textures of ‘Montuno’ eventually give way to the shadowy, angled guitars of the next track ‘Fifty Fifty‘. In fact, just about the entire album is pretty cool from the rumbling ‘Earth Turner‘ to the drifty ‘Talking Mountains‘ to the evocative ‘Face‘ to the brief instrumental ‘Crimes Machine‘.
It’s clever, original and damn! It’s catchy! Total Radiohead meets the Cranes. In this case, my impulsiveness totally paid off and it’s ended up being a great start to a very belated and desperately needed “Man Day”…well, “Man Night” anyway. Now, bring on the scary schlock movie and bowl o’ corn!