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Album review

Album Review: Young Galaxy Shapeshifting

Young Galaxy Shapeshifting

If you’ve been keeping up with Montreal dream pop trioYoung Galaxy over the past few years, the first thing you’ll notice about the new album Shapeshifting is that it doesn’t sound anything like them. The rest of your listen will be devoted to deciding whether or not that’s a good thing.

Shapeshifting’s opener- The Angels Are Surely Weeping – serves as an assault of the unfamiliar; ushering in a punchy drum loop paired with a synth bassline. Even Stephen Ramsay’s vocals lack the watery presence of past recordings. Here his voice comes across as a sterile echo, a suitable companion to the cold electronic frameworks of the songs that dominate the album, but a change that is likely to off-put some of their shoegaze-minded listenership.
And although Young Galaxy undergo a massive stylistic makeover onShapeshifting, it isn’t necessarily a regressive one. For instance, Catherine McCandless’ vocal duties have never been stronger. On album standout We Have Everything, McCandless gives the performance of her career: a confident, operatic tour de force that makes the hypnotizing looping track a memorable one.

Unfortunately, such memorable moments are few and far between, andShapeshifting ultimately portrays Young Galaxy as sonically nomadic, searching for a niche as a little fish in a big pond.

Album review: Braids’ Native Speaker

Montreal-based experimental indie rockers Braids are 21-year-olds who don’t just yet make for the greatestinterview, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t take their debut Native Speaker seriously. These former Calgarians are in a catch 22 – having to live up to hype garnered partly because of their age, and/or, because of their age, dodging comments about their lack of identity formation (yes, they sound like and try-to-sound-like Animal Collective).  But taking that context away, we find a beautiful album on its own. Like many things worshiped by the Pitchfork set, this is music for indie kids to meditate to. Therefore some of you will find it boring, others dream-pop bliss. Standout track Plath Heart shows Braids talents for looping, subtle melodic progressions (Calgary’s Women are an influence), and Raphaelle Strandell-Preston fragile-vs.-wailing vocals. It’s set-the-scenery music: It’s not Canadiana, but it’s a suitable soundtrack to driving through our golden prairies, lush forests and lakes, or watching the Rockies via  train window.  Hopefully Braids’ very-Canadian modesty does not inhibit its embrace in its home country.