15 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Home recording is hardly killing music, as the music industry tried to suggest under a different context many years ago. Musicians sequestered in their basements worldwide are recording material that’s every bit as interesting and sonically impressive as that being produced in the world’s most accomplished studios. Noted illustrator and animator (his work has appeared on MTV2), Chad VanGaalen has been working at a feverish pace in his Calgary, Alberta basement studio, putting hundreds of songs to tape and paring them down to album length for mass consumption. What to make of this eclectic mix that divebombs from manic new-wave metal (“Flower Gardens”) to swaying acoustic falsetto (“Graveyard”) without pause and with odd homemade instruments poking through the arrangements? Much like VanGaalen’s lyrics, it’s probably best not to take anything too literally and just groove on the ‘sound.’ VanGaalen’s at his best when he sounds like a down-and-almost-out Neil Young, hanging onto the bar for last balance. “Systemic Heart” sounds like a country-band stuck in a junkyard, with bleating harmonica, staggering cardboard box-like drums and frayed vocals that suggest the party started days ago and refuses to die. Not life-changing stuff, but generous in spirit, nonetheless.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Home recording is hardly killing music, as the music industry tried to suggest under a different context many years ago. Musicians sequestered in their basements worldwide are recording material that’s every bit as interesting and sonically impressive as that being produced in the world’s most accomplished studios. Noted illustrator and animator (his work has appeared on MTV2), Chad VanGaalen has been working at a feverish pace in his Calgary, Alberta basement studio, putting hundreds of songs to tape and paring them down to album length for mass consumption. What to make of this eclectic mix that divebombs from manic new-wave metal (“Flower Gardens”) to swaying acoustic falsetto (“Graveyard”) without pause and with odd homemade instruments poking through the arrangements? Much like VanGaalen’s lyrics, it’s probably best not to take anything too literally and just groove on the ‘sound.’ VanGaalen’s at his best when he sounds like a down-and-almost-out Neil Young, hanging onto the bar for last balance. “Systemic Heart” sounds like a country-band stuck in a junkyard, with bleating harmonica, staggering cardboard box-like drums and frayed vocals that suggest the party started days ago and refuses to die. Not life-changing stuff, but generous in spirit, nonetheless.

TITLE TIME
2:28
2:51
3:15
1:54
1:46
3:32
0:27
3:05
2:46
2:46
2:48
3:50
3:50
3:12
0:28

About Chad VanGaalen

Hailing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, singer/songwriter Chad VanGaalen creates a delightfully soothing indie rock sound. His airy falsetto is part Christopher Cross and part Thom Yorke, and fans of Broken Social Scene, Band of Horses, and Destroyer should find the charm in VanGaalen's wild imagination. Since 1998, the quirky VanGaalen has drafted hundreds of songs well-tailored for indie rock fans old and new. In 2004, the Calgary label Flemish Eye gathered some of these songs together for VanGaalen's first album, Infiniheart. Sub Pop inked VanGaalen to an American deal a year later and reissued a reassembled version of Infiniheart. Skelliconnection arrived in August 2006. Soft Airplane, his second album for Sub Pop, was released in September 2008, and featured a cartoon video for "Molten Light" that he illustrated and animated himself. In 2009, VanGaalen released the largely instrumental and electronic-oriented experimental album Snow Blindness Is Crystal Antz under the name Black Mold. After producing two albums for Flemish Eye labelmates Women, VanGaalen returned with Diaper Island in 2011. A year later, he began working on an animated science fiction feature called Translated Log of Inhabitants. Preceding its release, he issued his fifth album, Shrink Dust, in April 2014, which is partially a soundtrack to the film. ~ MacKenzie Wilson

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