Gregor’s Bed – Girl + the Machine, Patrick Brealey, Said the Whale

Intriguing New Developments in Alternative Music

?The function of genius is to furnish cretins with ideas twenty years later.?

Louis Aragon, ?La Porte-plume,? Traite du style, 1928

If Kate Bush Had Headed Pink Floyd in the Sixties

Girl + the Machine

Hello Earth, Aporia Records, 2009

Intense, driving acid rock anthems and beautifully constructed experimental arias rendered in the sweet and slightly deranged sounding vocals of lead Jackie, whose voice is haunting to the point of eeriness. The melodic ideas alone are worthy of contemplation, but there are enough engaging accompaniments and diverse musical references to keep you coming back. Also a great morning-after-a-break-up album. Or morning-after-finding-a-new love. Really.

Some Days Smell Like Dead Flowers

Patrick Brealey

Mercury in Songbirds, Boompa Productions, 2009

don’t be fooled?Brealey’s ├╝berfolk musical accompaniment is an utterly incongruous backdrop to some of the driest, most tongue-in-cheek and even macabre country lyrics you’ll ever hear. The song ?Some Days Aren’t Very Good,? for example, houses the following gem: ?Some days smell like dead flowers / Some fires go out / and leave you to scrounge through the ash.? In our recent interview Patrick disclosed a personality as deadpan as Mr. Bean’s and an utter inability to laugh at his own jokes. Great acoustic backup with nods to rock, bluegrass, rockabilly, cabaret, and blues, and a voice right out of early Sun Records. Think Flying Burrito Brothers if you must, but Brealey makes the old styles sound refreshingly eccentric.

Those Weird Kids You Went to Summer Camp With

Said the Whale

Islands Disappear, Hidden Pony, 2009

These people just don’t seem to care that rock and pop have been traditionally urban. Sure you have the Beatles? ?Mother Nature’s Son? and Bob Dylan’s ?Maggie’s Farm,? and sure, many of the greats emerged from the backwoods, but rock has always been more pavement and streetlights than spruce and moose muffins. Said the Whale sings enthusiastically about adventures and misadventures in the Canadian outback, revealing a sense of being oddly out of sync with nature, which I suppose does fit into the rock sensibility (think Talking Heads). With glee-club tight harmonies, erudite lyrics, and romper room enthusiasm along the lines of nerd rock predecessors They Might Be Giants and the Barenaked Ladies, Islands Disappear does mull over love troubles but against a backdrop of observations on weather, geography, wildlife, and why anyone would want to go out into the Canadian hinterlands in the first place.

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