Here’s some background on Ruby Coast: they’re 5 dudes from Ontario Canada, they’ve toured with Passion Pit, Tokyo Police Club and Ra Ra Riot, their new album was produced by Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire) and Brian Paulson (Wilco, Beck), and they can sneak “No Way Jose” into a song better than most. So now that we have the obligatory introductions out of the way let’s talk about their new album Whatever This Is. A relatively short album with most songs clocking in around 3 minutes long these guys have obviously figured out that being the last person at the party is not a good idea. More often than not the album plugs along at an upbeat pace presenting you with poppy little tunes along the way. They’re not scared of a quick breakdown but try not to take themselves too seriously by always keeping it catchy and fun. Title track “Whatever This Is” is a stand out that will win you over from the first line, “Everything’s fine peachy as a key lime…,” “Stability” kicks off from the first drum beat and “Plasticine” keeps the party going with yet another indie pop gem. Not a game changing album but a nice surprising treat none the less, plus for their first full length album these guys are showing a tremendous amount of promise. I look forward to hearing what else our friends to the North have up their sleeves in the future.
O yea, did I mention that they are giving their entire album away for FREE! Head here for a free download.
While perhaps a forgotten memory to many Americans, our friendly nation to the north, Canada, once burned down our White House. Proving history can repeat itself, a mostly Canadian line-up (Arkells, Tokyo Police Club), and some Brooklynites (Freelance Whales), stormed the nation’s capital once again at the Black Cat Club in downtown DC. While the torch-fire was ostensibly missing, the amazing light show and raw energy made sure that sparks were flying.
In looking for a solid opener, Tokyo Police Club could not have done better with their gem of a find, Arkells. While the band may not yet have garnished their much-deserved recognition in the states, with sets like this it shouldn’t be long. Their songs invoke tales of working-class heroes, so titles such as “John Lennon” come as no surprise along with “Oh, the Boss is Coming!”, “No Champagne Socialist” and “The Ballad of Huge Chavez.” Yet, they displayed no disruptive balance of power, instead providing a glimpse of refreshing band camaraderie, with guitarist Mike DeAngelis often roaming the stage to confront others in playful on-stage duels. After closing the set, it was apparent it would be a battle for those who were to follow.
Freelance Whales took to the stage next, playing a solid set comprised of a literal musical chairs, as they constantly switched amongst their armory of instruments. The band did have one thing missing, the musical apparatus that has attained a cult-like status amongst fans: a silver tin watering can. FW sound similar to many bands you’ve already heard, often drawing comparisons to Passion Pit or the Postal Service, an appropriate evaluation as they could deviate to either fates: current sensation or one-record wonders. FW plays to the present phenomenon of artsy-folk-instrumental-synthetic-pop-rock and it seems what will come to be their greatest hurdle is not just being a great copy of all the Sufjans and Gibbards before them, but a new reinvention that seems relevant not just reformed.
As the lights exploded color and outlined shadows of the four-some appeared, pandemonium erupted. For the band that promised “a way to celebrate”, Tokyo Police Club did not disappoint. They tore onto the stage with ‘Favourite Colour’ followed by ‘Nature of the Experiment’ and ‘Not Sick’. TPC is a band made to be seen live and they truly did what they know best. Allowing for little chatter between songs, the Canadian rockers ripped through years of our collective memories at breakneck speed. For those younger in the audience, TPC’s lyrics read like an unrealized cautionary tale; for others it serves as a memoir. Backed by a stellar band and a magnetic front man, TPC’s performance shows why they are one of the best reads out on the market. While it has yet to be seen if their relevance can withstand the years, TPC are happy where they are now, ‘happy to be back’, and it’s a happiness that can’t help but be contagious. And as the crowd left etched with smiles, one thing was clear. History can repeat itself, even with the absence of fire and a building colored black, Canadians most certainly can still bring down the house.
Tokyo Police Club Set List:
Nature of the Experiment
End of a Spark
In a Cave
Citizens of Tomorrow
Wait up (Boots of Danger)
Your English is Good
Guest Writer: Olivia Harrington
When Tokyo Police Club burst out onto the scene in 2005 their songs oozed adolescent angst and sex in the way only teenage boys could. On their first EP A Lesson In Crime tracks had little build-up coupled with self-conscious insecurity, marked by fast paced, jarring motions and a hint of false bravado. It was, nevertheless, a perfectly climaxing EP that left listeners begging for more.
Five years later, Tokyo Police Club’s newest foray, the 11-track sophomore LP Champ, shows signs of a maturity that begins to recover from the awkward phase of their first LP, Elephant Shell. While their earlier sounds marketed off the short attention span of modern culture, Champ has an assuredness that allows lead singer Dave Monks to take his time, lingering in the absolute absurdity and beauty of youth. One of the best songs on the album, ‘Favourite Food’ begins like a ballad of youth lost, wandering amongst a melodious disarray of electronic sounds. The vocals are soft, but halfway through TPC can’t resist bringing in the heavier instrumentals and upbeat tempo that made them famous. Tracks like ‘Bambi’ reveal a dichotomy TPC often explore. The lyrics juxtapose the childlike wonder of kites and castles against a slurred, cynical apology for coming home drunk the night before. Champ reads like a modern day bedtime story where each tale awakens you to some forgotten memory, holding you in the farthest thing from sleep. TPC transports listeners back to the nights they were tucked into bed or, more likely, tangled amongst another’s limbs in the backseat of the car.
If there is one complaint to be made on the album is that their longing for something past has stifled their ability to create something genuinely new. Monks’ romanticism of the past creates fuzzy tableaus, but that same blurriness carries on throughout their album. As Champ continues, songs begin to risk the predictability of heavy guitar rifts, highlighted vocals and snapshots of childhood attics covered in dust. Tokyo Police Club must be careful to save themselves from the fate of senile grandparents, constantly reminiscing about ‘back in the day’ to the point where you no longer wish to visit. In order to overcome the seeming curse of the mid-2000s indie band (The afflicted: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Cold War Kids and Bloc Party amongst others), TPC must continue to construct upon where Champ succeeds. They must emphasize their lyrical prowess, but explore different build and rifts, catapulting them from simply a catchy commercial band, to an indispensable voice of a generation. For these 20-somethings, they must consider how long and in what way they can continue manufacturing memories and reminiscing on teenage Americana. What Tokyo Police Club has is their age and the freedom it creates for them to form an identity and take unexpected leaps. Maybe it is time for some real rebellion, the kind to which their songs often allude. Perhaps they just may need to ask themselves, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”