Tag Archives: The Besnard Lakes

The Besnard Lakes — A Coliseum Complex Museum (Album Review)

The Besnard Lakes' fifth album 'A Coliseum Complex Museum'

The Besnard Lakes’ fifth album ‘A Coliseum Complex Museum’

The best way to quantify The Besnard Lakes’ fifth album is A Coliseum Complex Museum is to realize that they’ve distilled their sound down to its most Besnardian essence. A casual observer might misinterpret this as more of the same — and in many ways A Coliseum Complex Museum *is* similar to pass Besnard efforts, the band once again holding steady to their distinctly gauzy space rock sonic palette — but dismissing the record in this way ignores the sharper focus and refinements in The Besnard Lakes’ game. All of the band’s hallmarks are there: the pristine textures, the deliberate build-ups that pay off in explosive, technicolour crescendoes, and the dark, often otherwordly song subjects (this album appears to revolve around magic and mythical beasts, see “Necronomicon,” “The Bray Road Beast”).

It’s in the fine details, though, where The Besnards exceed the stiffer previous record, Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO. Primary vocalist Jace Lasek seems, improbably, to be singing even higher than previously, which works to great effect when paired against the deliberate mechanical chug of standouts “Golden Lion” and “Towers Sent Her to Sheets of Sound.” The Besnards near-defiant devotion to the classic rock guitar solo also yields wonderful results on “Pressure of Our Plans” and the dramatically good closer “Tungsten 4: The Refugee.” The revelation on A Coliseum Complex Museum, though, just may be the use of Olga Goreas’ bass. Deployed with strategic effectiveness on “Nightengale,” “The Plain Moon” and “Golden Lion,” these insistent pulsing thrums magnificently set up the band’s most melodramatic moments.

All that said, what might be most intriguing about A Coliseum Complex Museum is its air of craftsmanship. The album feels like something pieced together thoughtfully and methodically, all with the grand intention of blowing our minds.

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Aaron’s Top Albums Of 2010

The Black Angels' Phosphene Dream

The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream

This is my official Top 10 album list for 2010:

10. Arcade Fire The Suburbs

This made the list at #10 because of a begrudging acknowledgement that, yes, technically it’s a very good album. I can’t, however, shake the notion that the subject matter (restless youth, suburban angst) is something that pop-punkers have been singing about for 25 years. Which makes it not nearly as brave and world-shattering a concept as many would suggest.

9. Band Of Horses Infinite Arms

I haven’t listened to this album since 2010 and I see no reason to do so now.

8. Gord Downie And The Country Miracles The Grand Bounce

I’ve always had a tremendous appreciation for Gord Downie’s solo records. After all, to eschew his easy cash register gig in The Tragically Hip to do something like record freak-out hash rock poetry with Dale Morningstar (Coke Machine Glow, 2001) is incredibly bold. The thing is, as Hip albums become increasingly infrequent, Downie’s complimentary solo records are regressing to the mean in terms of musical adventure. And while The Grand Bounce has its moments — “The Drowning Machine,” in particular, reveals Downie’s often hidden dark side — I can’t help but feel it’s the beginning of Downie’s solo output oscillating towards the bar blues he’s better known for.

7. Black Mountain Wilderness Heart

It’s vitally important that Black Mountain exist. After all, without them there’d be a generation of Broken Social Scene-weaned hipsters who’d never think to listen to their dad’s old Zeppelin, Sabbath and Deep Purple albums.

6. The Schomberg Fair Gospel

In truth, it’s the idea of The Schomberg Fair — a punk-powered, banjo-plucking, hallelujah-hollerin’ rock revival — that I appreciated more than the actual music they released. This #6 spot is probably more about hope than actual love for Gospel.

5. Sunfields Palace In The Sun

The subtle charms of this soft-ish rock album from sometimes-Dears member Jason Kent certainly won me over at the time. In the end though I mostly cared about a song called “Desert Son.” If I redid this list today the album would probably be lower.

4. The Black Keys Brothers

Over it.

3. Gorillaz Plastic Beach

It took me almost a decade to realize that Gorillaz — a joke band made up of cartoon characters — was just as good as (and perhaps even better than) Damon Albarn’s other band, Blur. Granted, it took an album with outsized cameos from Snoop Dogg, Bobby Womack and Little Dragon to figure this out, but the fact I even got there is what really matters. “Stylo” is one of the best play-it-really-loud songs I’ve heard in ages and “Empire Ants,” my favourite from Plastic Beach, inflames the imagination.

2. The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night

The initial reason why I loved Are The Roaring Night was because my hockey team went on a huge winning streak when I’d listen to “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Pt. 2: The Innocent” as a psyche up song before each game. Gifts like these from the Hockey Gods need to be supported, after all. More recently, though, I’ve been reading a lot of John le Carré books. And while this has given me a suspicious fear of the United States and the nagging sensation that everyone you look up to will invariably let you down, it’s also done a lot to romance the whole idea of Cold War spies and their “tradecraft.” So now when I listen to Are The Roaring Night I not only enjoy the music on it’s surface sonic level, but I can also dig deeper into the loose spy concept/narrative that’s going on in the record as I peruse German daily newspapers waiting for coded messages from Czech operatives.

 

1. The Black Angels Phosphene Dream

When I looked back at this list and saw the #1 my first instinct was, “Why?” So I listened to it again and reconfirmed that, yeah, this is one badass record. Now, my loyalty to the album isn’t so strong that I wouldn’t consider flipping it with the Besnard album if I redid this today, but “Entrance Song,” “Bad Vibrations” and “Phosphene Dream” all explore that darker, more dangerous side of psyche rock I find so exciting.

Other album lists…

2015 Top Ten — SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart SUUNS + Jerusalem In My Heart is #1
2014 Top Ten — Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There is #1
2013 Top Ten — M.I.A.’s Matangi is #1
2012 Top Ten — Dirty Ghosts’ Metal Moon is #1
2011 Top Ten — Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creepin’ On is #1
2010 Top Ten — The Black Angels’ Phosphene Dream is #1
2009 Top Ten — Gallows’ Grey Britain is #1
2008 Top Ten — Portishead’s Third is #1
2007 Top Ten — Joel Plaskett Emergency’s Ashtray Rock is #1
2006 Top Ten — My Brightest Diamond’s Bring Me The Workhorse is #1
2005 Top Ten — Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Howl is #1
2004 Top Ten — Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry is #1
2003 Top Ten — The Dears’ No Cities Left is #1
2002 Top Ten — Archive’s You All Look The Same To Me is #1
2001 Top Ten — Gord Downie’s Coke Machine Glow is #1
2000 Top Ten — Songs: Ohia’s The Lioness is #1
1999 Top Ten — The Boo Radleys’ Kingsize is #1
1998 Top Ten — Baxter’s Baxter is #1
1996 Top Ten — Tricky’s Maxinquaye is #1

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Polaris People For The Week Of April 5 (Patrick Watson! Besnard Lakes! Metric!)

Patrick Watson

Patrick Watson

The latest edition of my Polaris People column is online over at the Polaris Music Prize website.

This week we point out that The Besnard Lakes are everywhere, ponder Patrick Watson with an orchestra and go to the warning track with Metric and the Toronto Blue Jays.

To read the column, go here.

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Polaris People For The Week Of January 11 (Besnard Lakes! Joel Plaskett! John K. Samson!)

Caribou

Caribou

The latest edition of my Polaris People column is online over at the Polaris Music Prize website.

In this edition we celebrate The Besnard Lakes putting out new music, contemplate a royally-endorsed Joel Plaskett and support one of John K. Samson‘s initiatives.

To read this week’s column, go here.

P.S. for bonus Polaris content, check out the story I did last week which compiled the Top Ten album lists of 35 separate Polaris jurors. It’s pretty good insight into their minds.

 

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Polaris People For Feb. 10 (K’naan! Cadence Weapon! Besnard Lakes!)

Cadence Weapon photo by Dustin Rabin. Courtesy of Polaris Music Prize

Cadence Weapon photo by Dustin Rabin. Courtesy of Polaris Music Prize

This week’s edition of the Polaris People blog Aaron does over at the Polaris Music Prize website is now live. The Feb. 10 post featured news about K’naan, Cadence Weapon, The Besnard Lakes and a bunch more.

You can read the story by clicking over to the Polaris Music Prize site here.

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