It’s Canada Day and HRH and I had grandiose plans to hang out at the beach together and play some frisbee, maybe have a picnic, and then go see fireworks later on when mommy gets home. But Mother Nature has decided to be a bitch and spew bullshit from the sky so there’s a very good chance now that none of this is going to happen which is also going to make for a very long, lame, Canada Day holiday of being housebound and bored out of our minds. The same shit happened last year if I recall correctly. God help me.
I figure then that in between downpours I’m at least going to slip in an easy run just to balance out all the empty calories I’m likely to consume later on in a fit of total and complete boredom. So I’ve chosen then a little Canadiana with which to celebrate, specifically the newest album by Plants & Animals, ‘Waltzed In From the Rumbling‘.
How apropos is that album title given the current weather conditions?
Anyway, the Montreal-based trio began playing together as kids, emerged on the international scene in 2008 and have since developed a varied cult following, built this on the shoulders of their self-produced records, their intense live show, or both – depending on who you ask.
Recently, even Kelly has been among the converted.
They have been nominated for big awards. They have appeared on major radio and television programs. They have opened for household names and headlined many tours of their own around North America and Europe. However, in 2013, they decided to slow down.
By slow down, they meant make music the way they used to. It was the beginning of what would be an on-and-off recording process stretched out over two years. It was a time of rest, as the story often goes, for a band that had seen plenty of touring and not enough home. They slept in their own beds and made their new album through nine seasons and the thick of life. By “make music the way they used to”, they meant to follow threads to their frayed ends. They recorded any ideas that popped up and edited impulsively. Lyrics were often streams of consciousness, bent into shape. They left mistakes in place where they had their charms, looking to expose rather than conceal. The lead singer doubled as engineer, the lead guitar player as baroque pianist, the drummer as inside-outside eye. They called in friends to sing, to play bass, keys, strings and horns. They found an antique guiro next to an obsolete VCR on the curbside and recorded both. They made an empty fridge sound like a timpani drum. They covertly recorded girls’ brash gossip on a city bus. They discovered the guy who always hung around in the kitchen was a cabasa wizard. It all found a place. They took the path of big production. They pulled down the curtains and showed their hearts and bones. Basically, this is about as Canadian a landscape as one is going to get.
From the chop of the stereo-panned acoustic guitars to the gentle golf claps on ‘No Worries Gonna Find Us‘ (last month’s single), to the train-brakes flute on ‘So Many Nights‘, to the string and horn arrangements that bring so much texture to this album, everything is in its right place. If that sounds like I’m referencing a different band, this is because Plants & Animals sound like a different band, namely a combination of Radiohead (specifically the album opener ‘We Were One‘ and ‘All of the Time‘) and a turn-of-the-century Flaming Lips. In fact, Spicer’s words words fall somewhere between Thom Yorke’s sneering cynicism and Wayne Coyne’s wide-eyed wonder. From the unexpected psych burst of ‘Stay‘ to the multi-faceted movements of ‘Je voulais te dire‘, each song bursts with surprise.
The album was released just this past April on Secret City Records and easily fits among my Best of 2016 list of albums. Plus, it’s got Airplanes, Bitches! Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better listen today while running/walking 6.75k around the neighborhood. My legs are still feeling some of the weariness from the 170+ kilometers I’ve covered in the past four days so today then I just wanted to get out, burn some easy calories and otherwise enjoy exactly 43 minutes and 46 seconds of excellent Canadiana tunage.
Happy Canada Day, eh?