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The Choir Practice

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Album Review

OK, so the whole idea of putting together an indie glee club is just a little on the gimmicky side, but it would be a mistake to dismiss the Choir Practice as nothing more than a novelty act. Just take a look at who's involved here: headed up by Coco Culbertson and comprised of over a dozen sundry representatives from Vancouver's court of indie rock royalty, including P:ano's Larissa Loyva and Great Aunt Ida's Ida Nilsen, the Choir Practice is built on some of the Pacific Northwest's biggest (not to mention cutest) indie talent. More than this, they have some good material to draw from; Culbertson and Lovya have written a batch of wonky, hip, and thoroughly infectious pop songs, and this is what ultimately makes the Choir Practice more than a flash in the pan. Whether by design or accident, a good deal of the material here harks back to folk acts like the New Christy Minstrels and Peter, Paul & Mary, not to mention Fairport Convention and the Mamas & the Papas. The Choir Practice are at their best when they take the traditional chorale sound and gently twist it into indie rock shapes with the help of a lone electric guitar and some handclaps; "Believe in Something" curves and kinks into pleasing indie pop squiggles (think Sufjan Stevens minus the orchestra), and the wistful, tentative "Failsafe," penned by A.C. Newman, is so direct and lovely it hurts. There are some cloying moments here: the blue-eyed, elementary school chorale sound of "I See Things" feels a little simplistic compared to some of the more mature offerings found here, and "White Hat," jaunty as it is, loses its footing under the weight of its syrupy sweetness. Small missteps aside, there's more than enough savory indie pop goodness here to warrant coming back for seconds and thirds, especially when it comes to tracks like "Failsafe" and "Red Fox." This is nostalgic, wise, inspiring stuff.


Formed: 2005 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cana

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

The Choir Practice was one of several large-scale indie pop ensembles to emerge at the dawn of the 21st century. Similar to the Polyphonic Spree insofar as they adopted the trappings of a choir, this Vancouver-based group drew heavily from traditional chorale music and '60s acts like the Mamas & the Papas and the New Christy Minstrels in crafting their woodsy, poignant arrangements. Veteran bassist Coco Culbertson (formerly of the Gay and the A.C. Newman Band) started the project in 2005, and a rotating...
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The Choir Practice, The Choir Practice
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