Brasstronaut’s new album is just right.
To the ears it’s well-fed without being too full. It’s smart without being arrogant.
While rich, not one second of the 10 tracks would ever use a $100 bill to light a Cuban cigar. Every sound on the album, from the standard guitar, bass, keys and drums to the multi-layered electronics, is in its right place.
Melancholy tracks like the reverb drenched Moonwalker sings of leaving footprints in the grey dust contrast well with the more upbeat Falklands.
The Vancouver sextet put their sophomore album Mean Sun together during the last two years of touring. Frontman Edo Van Breeman said in some ways it’s a debut album because it’s the first time the whole band wrote together.
“What you feel with this record is a more cohesive band working together,” he said.
Not that they had much of an idea of how the album should sound when they walked into The Hive Creative Labs in Vancouver to work with Colin Stewart (Dan Mangan, Yukon Blonde).
“We just started throwing stuff at the mixing board and whatever worked stayed,” Van Breeman said.
While the reviews have been great, there’s little doubt this album will get a Polaris Prize nod like the band’s 2010 debut Mount Chimaera did, critics seem to have a hard time pinning down Brasstronaut’s sound. Van Breeman thinks it’s because like many bands growing up with an abundance of music thanks to the Internet, the six-piece has come together from varied styles and genres.
“I guess it’s good to be mysterious,” he laughs. “But we definitely didn’t plan it to be that way we just make the music we make. We do whatever seems right and interesting to us at the time.”
Van Breeman likes to produce a lot of electronic music and has spent a lot time recording digitally. He said he used that experience to balance all of the sounds on the album, something that can definitely be heard. But that doesn’t mean their live show will sound the same.
“The record is one representation for how the songs could sound and every night we play is like a new record basically,” he said.
Like many bands these days in the always tumultuous business climate of the music industry, Brasstronaut asked fans for money in order to put the album out.
Van Breeman said it’s just like pre-selling an album. The Georgia Straight, Vancouver’s alt-weekly, accused them and others of trying to be charity cases.
The opinion piece by Michael Mann caused a heated debate. And while Van Breeman thought the attack on Brasstronaut was irrelevant, he was happy to see that people are starting to talk about the challenges of producing independent music.
“I’m glad it happened because it bought out this pretty heated debate about patronage and the current state of the music industry in Canada and pretty much all over the world,” he said.
Brasstronaut plays Crock’s June 12 with Iceland’s Útidúr.
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