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Where Night Holds Light

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Album Review

With Where Night Holds Light, the Buttless Chaps continue their musical evolution from offbeat alt-country to more expansive, yet still offbeat, orchestral pop. Their music projects an open, pastoral quality that is forged by both acoustic and electric instrumentation. One of the band's intriguing aspects is how twangy and rock elements coexist with all of the synthesized whirls and blips. Nothing the Chaps do is straightforward. Their songs are stuffed with a variety of musical ideas, time signatures, and melodies. The one constant component, however, comes in the singing. Dave Gowans possesses a resonant, dramatic voice that is akin to the Tindersticks' Stuart Staples, while Ida Nilsen's lithe harmonizing serves an appealing counterpoint to Gowans' resonant singing. Songs like "Caboose," "The Poacher," and "Master and Commander" showcase what this western Canadian ensemble does best: create entrancing aural pieces that radiate an alluring, twilight tranquility. They also shine on a couple tunes with a rockier edge, the title cut and "Migratory Birds," both of which use the arty new wave groups like Simple Minds and Echo & the Bunnymen as their jumping-off point. Even when the songs turn more meandering, the efforts have interesting moments. In the overly long "Movements," a cascading piano part captures one's attention, as does a banjo solo. The penchant for elaborate arrangements and elliptical lyrics does make it somewhat hard to warm up to the band. Lyrics touch upon the natural world (insects, birds, river, snow, soil, etc.), but an otherworldly inscrutability exists in them. As a result, the songs often wind up being fascinating, although not totally captivating. Even their most emotionally direct number, the simply done set closer "Occupation of Freedom," feels slightly remote. Full of beauty, the music on Where Night Holds Light holds an unsettling undercurrent that seems part of the band's design. A beguiling, if not quite totally successful, musical adventure.

Customer Reviews

Yikes. Not what you might be expecting...

I honestly thought this might be a gay S&M band. I mean c'mon look at their name & the titles of the first 5 songs!!!! If only it were that clever....this is like American Music Club at their most pretentious. The singer has a nice voice, but it's not used to great effect here among bland instrumentation and odd lyrics. A weird blend of country/folk/cowboy/stuff.

The music is good. The name ... Well....

I was a little leery of the groups name but this is a very pleasing sound. Good for the times I feel the need to mellow out.

Cornered & Jaded

I actually listened to the group because of their name...let's not take ourselves too seriously! The vocals are inspirational.


Formed: 1998 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canad

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Buttless Chaps first rode into the Victoria, British Columbia music scene in 1998. While country-rock overall, the Chaps were strapped with touches of indie rock and twinges of fuzzy electronics. Led by vocalist/guitarist/banjoist Dave Gowans, the band also included guitarist/lap steel man Lasse Lutick, keyboardist/synthesizer guy Morgan McDonald, and drummer Torben Wilson. A self-titled LP followed soon after the band's formation; it enjoyed solid critical acclaim, and was picked up for national...
Full Bio
Where Night Holds Light, The Buttless Chaps
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