Photography by eckyducky
Man! Two mixtapes in one day, one from adventurerneil’s buddy and one from Subpop via Amazon? Niiiiiiice…… Well, with all that hot & potentially hyped up modern indie-alt goodness, I think I’ll put my post on the sweet new Born Ruffians album on hold for a sec — SPOILER ALERT: The album sounds like what Vampire Weekend’s album SHOULD have sounded like! Truly fun & soulful! — and discuss an oldie that’s brought something new to the table.
You see… Mr. Brad Roberts has released his 9th album with Oooh La La and his bourbon-soaked baritone is warshin’ over my ears like an old friend who’s found some new life!
Now… Crash Test Dummies ain’t new to us. One search over on the sidebar and you’ll see that ever since we first heard that song “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” waaaay back in 1993, we’ve been smitten with the “Canadian Folk-rockers”.
What? Why the parenthesis?
No, they are Canadian, it’s not that. It’s the folk-rockers part. Yes, if you look at their first album The Ghost That Haunts Me Now (a very successful album up in Canada, you one-hit wonder naysayers), sure you can call them that. With God Shuffled His Feet, their sound shifted into serious pop land, quirky “folk-pop” fine, but definitely pop. But with Worm, anything folk was pretty much gone! Give Yourself A Hand was almost fucking dance music! I Don’t Care That You Don’t Mind? Practically country. Puss N’ Boots? Soul. Songs For The Unforgiven was just plan dark-ass church-record something.
You know, you genuine music critics, you do this all the time and for the most part, for most bands, it’s fine, they evolve their sound delicately and you can tag them and call it a day release after release, but there’s a whole subset of artists out there who are, for lack of a better work, shape-shifters.
Bands that change their sound with each album, often quite dramatically, often eschewing potential follow-up success in the spirit of artistic integrity or just simply trying something different. Some of my very favourite bands have done this, Violent Femmes, REM, even Weezer to a small degree, and to one of the most extreme cases, today’s discussion, the Crash Test Dummies.
It’s not always a good thing, as far as success is concerned, and often leaves last-album fans confused and out in the cold. Don’t believe? Ask the dishes! And then go ask 1st album MGMT fans. Yet, I betcha, 6 albums from now, some critics will still say “dance pop” band MGMT or something.
Also, while I’m at it, dear professional music crickets, just because a band, specifically a shape-shifting bang, releases an album that is akin to an older release in rough-genre, that is NOT a “return to form”, okay? Hey, REM cranked up the amps? WOOHOO, it’s a “return to form!” Hey, Weezer built some basic catchy fun power pop? YAY, it’s a “return to form”!
Okay. I don’t rant often, do I? I feel better so let’s move on…
With shape-shifters, here’s what you do. You get the album, you look down at the cover and ask, “I wonder what’s inside this time?” With Oooh La La (3 O’s) you get a fun little quirky almost toy-pop album! That’s right, I said “toy-pop” (copyright 2010 TSURURADIO bitches!). This make sense given that, according to wikipedia, the source for all things pretty accurate, the songs on the album are based around the Optigan and Omnichord toy instruments! Yeah, one of these:
Now, I’m older you, but I remember playing with an Omnichord back in my wee years! Fucking brilliant! Of course, after laying down the basics, it’s all layered up with various other instruments, Robert’s trademark baritone and a bit of Ellen Reid to soften the blow (she also take lead on the final track, “Put A Face”).
What you get is a positively fun album! No, not all upbeat and shit, but you can just hear that Brad & folks are just having fun creating quirky little songs and just doing what they want! It’s fresh and, mostly because of the vocals, familiar. Love it! Perfect.
2. “You Said You’d Meet Me (In California)”
3. “And It’s Beautiful”
5. “The In-Between Place”
6. “Not Today Baby”
7. “Heart Of Stone'”
8. “Lake Bras d’Or”
9. “What I’m Famous For”
10. “Now You See Her”
11. “Put A Face”