The word maturity gets thrown around a lot when talking about music and artists in general. I never really had a good grasp of how one could observe an artist “mature” over time. In comparing the sonic differences of West My Friend’s latest album When the Ink Dries, listeners can definitely hear the group’s sound developing and growing.
Those who are new to West My Friend will find WTID is filled with songs of varying tempo, content and mood. The four-piece band from Victoria practically defines the “folk-indie” genre, but also employs jazz and blues influences to accompany the guitar, mandolin, accordion, and bass that dominate their sound. Despite this, listeners will find this album offers a lot more than just those main sounds.
Immediately, cymbal washes and percussion drive the opening title track. An element new to the WMF sound brings a welcome force that pushes the songs in a more clear direction, something that is felt more than anything on many of the other tracks. “The Tattoo that Never Loved Her Anyway” showcases another unique component of the band’s repertoire; a syncopated vocal bridge is a bit odd at first, but warmed up on me as the song continued.
My favourite track off the album, “Missing You,” perfectly encapsulates the maturity of West My Friend. The folk-pop inspired song would not feel out of place on a Sara Bareilles record. This new direction of the band showcases their song writing skills alongside the produced sounds of Victoria mainstay Joby Baker, and arranger Adrian Dolan. Listeners can certainly hear the influence those two creative minds had on the overall sound of the album. The driving claps and four-on-the-floor provide the basis for the cheery brass lines that would get any crowd dancing.
One quip I have about the album in general is the song placement and order. As it stands now, WTID feels more like a collection of pretty songs, rather than a complete album telling a story. The juxtaposition between pop hits like “Missing You,” to the calm and discouraging “Thin Hope” does not add to the flow of the album. By no means does this take away from the beauty in the songs, particularly the latter – I feel as a listener the album could be arranged in such a way to tell a more complete story.
A song that cannot go without mention in any review of this album is “The Cat Lady Song.” This cabaret style epic with full brass and string sections feels like it deserves its own Baz Luhrmann film to accompany it. The song which lyrics discusses the feelings of cats and asks, “What do you do when two cat ladies fall in love?” is a perfect reason why the band has been described as quirky. (They must be cat people…)
Filled with wonderful arrangements, rich harmonies, and full, dense songs, West My Friend’s When the Ink Dries is a welcomed progression from their debut Place. They have transformed their sound from the simplicity of a four-piece to a polished quartet, providing a cacophony of sound that engulfs the listener.
The Tattoo That Loved Her Anyway
West My Friend begins their cross Canada album release tour on March 6th.
The album will be available from the band and on their website at http://www.westmyfriend.com/apps/webstore/
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Here we are again. Two months later, another false promise of more posts and yet another failure on my part to come through. So this time I won’t promise any more posts – I’ll just write when I feel the needs and if you’re around to catch it – awesome. If not – shucks! (I just looked, my last real post was in September. That’s five months – ouch.)
If we back up to September – I went to Vancouver to get an idea of my chances of working out there. Nothing. Came back to Calgary – spent a month with an A/V company. Hated it. Floundered for a few months. Went to BreakOut West in Calgary (a big musical conference). Got in touch with the band Good for Grapes. I told them I could do sound and tour managing for them. They were stoked. Christmas. Did a few random gigs here and there. Recorded a birthday party – songs soon. GFG was going on tour – asked me to come along. Went on tour. Had a good time. Signed up for another one. Back in Calgary. Floundering.
So good things have happened! I’m making a bit of progress and discovering what I do and don’t want out of this “career” in the music industry. My interest in recording is quickly starting to fade as I am having less and less luck with finding work in the business – and my prospects aren’t improving. This new administrative, managerial side of the music business is something I’d like to explore further and try more of. Lucky for me I’m going on a second tour this year to SXSW in Austin. Which is bound to be amazing.
If you haven’t heard Good for Grapes yet, you should definitely do so. Here is their song “London Fog.”
So who knows where I’m going to be in a years time. Even in 4 months time. I certainly have no idea what I’m doing.
As mentioned, lots of stuff has been happening with me lately. And because I know I’m not the centre of anyones universe – here’s some beautiful music to make your day better. Or worse, depending on what you’re going through.
I was prepared to love you
And never expect anything of you
This song came on my iPod today as I was wandering around Victoria – I saw Shakey Graves play this at the Banff Centre a few weeks ago. I’m here for a week for a music festival and then onto Vancouver next week for a business vacation. This is my first venture in search of work and it’s long overdue. I’ve felt that Calgary isn’t the right place for me and I’m in the process of finding my next home. Everyone I’ve talked to has said that they got their job by being in the right place at the right time, and I figure this is putting myself in the right place.
For the time being, Victoria is little vacation and visiting and planning before the big stop of Vancouver. It’s quite weird being back here. Much like every time I return to a place I’ve lived a significant portion of my life, I have an existential crisis about my sense of place. I spent four years here and made a lot of memories with a lot of people. And finally coming back to that – every time I visit or pass these places, I revisit those memories. Some of them I look back on very fondly, some are painful to remember.
This song kinda stuck with me because of the title/chorus “Built to Roam.” As I spent a month and a half earlier this summer wandering through Europe, and now this trip – I wonder if I’m one of those people who is built to roam. And my immediate reaction was that I’m not. I enjoy stability and routine. I do enjoy the idea of travelling and visiting new places and exploring – so when I get to Vancouver where everything is new – maybe I’ll feel better about this all. But for now – I haven’t really enjoyed roaming Victoria.
Victoria is probably going to be the city that I remember most for giving my heart and growing up. I think I learnt a lot about myself and about others while I was here. I look back on my friendships and relationships and know that the people I met were crucial in forming who I am today.
For instance, there’s the CrackDonald’s here that I spent many a drunk night getting french fries. Or the square where I spent last years festival. The bus stop in front of the RBC where I probably spent a good 12 hours cumulatively waiting. Even going to the basement of the music building is weird when you don’t see your old friends sitting at their computers frantically trying to do a theory assignment or write some code. You could probably point to a different building on just about every street and I’d have a memory associated with it and a person.
As always, it’s weird coming back to where you were previously. At the university it feels like everything’s the same except for the cast – everyone else is younger and better looking, and I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser. But I can tell I’ve moved on from here too – coming back doesn’t feel like the home it used to be. So that just means time for bigger and better things!