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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I recently moved out to Banff to attend the Banff Centre of the Arts. The week preceding my move was one whirlwind after another. I received an email a week before I had to be in Banff requesting me to come be a part of the program. Within that week, I cancelled my bills, changed my address, gave notice, sold my furniture, and in the last three days before moving, I worked 36 hours as a production assistant at the Rifflandia Music Festival.
It definitely sucked leaving all the people in Victoria. Every time I had left before, it was more a temporary thing, and a return flight was always booked. With this trip however, there’s no certainty to where I’ll end up after this program. So that day and flight out was quite hard on me. Luckily I was surrounded by great people and a great girl to make it a little bit easier on myself. She went above and beyond in that last week and it made everything much easier on me.
But that’s the boring mushy stuff. Holy smokes the Banff Centre is awesome. This place fucking rules. The amount of great people here, the setting, the gear, the access to studios, microphones, musicians, and everything is super fantastic. I’m so excited to get working on projects here and becoming a better engineer. The thing I think I’m most looking forward to is being an engineer for a full-time job. Not like in the past where I got to go into the studio after classes or when I could find time, but that it’s my primary requirement that I be in the studio as much as possible. That’s a very exciting realization for me.
The new people here are awesome as well. I’m impressed how quickly and how well I get along with the other work studies. It must have something to do with the air and the environment that just makes people so friendly. We spent the last week going out nightly and just hanging out most of the time together. I’ve taken it upon myself to show these guys (2 brits and a yank) the greatest of Canadian stereotypes. We’ve done Tim Hortons, and today we’re going to go have some poutine. It’s going to be a grand ol’ Canadian time. Maybe I’ll get them to say eh and wear toque’s too!
This is incredible. Watching the duality of light in super duper slow motion! Awesome! Science rules!
In 1964 MIT professor Harold Edgerton, pioneer of stop-action photography, famously took a photo of a bullet piercing an apple using exposures as short as a few nanoseconds. Inspired by his work, Ramesh Raskar and his team set out to create a camera that could capture not just a bullet (traveling at 850 meters per second) but light itself (nearly 300 million meters per second).
Stop a moment to take that in: photographing light as it moves. For that, they built a camera and software that can visualize pictures as if they are recorded at 1 trillion frames per second. The same photon-imaging technology can also be used to create a camera that can peer “around” corners , by exploiting specific properties of the photons when they bounce off surfaces and objects.
Among the other projects that Raskar is leading, with the MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture research group, are low-cost eye care devices, a next generation CAT-Scan machine and human-computer interaction systems.
Andreas Velten, Thomas Willwacher, Otkrist Gupta, Ashok Veeraraghavan, Moungi G. Bawendi and Ramesh Raskar, “Recovering ThreeDimensional Shape around a Corner using Ultra-Fast Time-of-Flight Imaging.” Nature Communications, March 2012
Andreas Velten, Adrian Jarabo, Belen Masia, Di Wu, Christopher Barsi, Everett Lawson, Chinmaya Joshi, Diego Gutierrez, Moungi G. Bawendi and Ramesh Raskar, “Ultra-fast Imaging for Light in Motion” (in progress). http://femtocamera.info
“Though photographs in the near future will still be composed by people holding cameras, it will gradually become more accurate to say pictures were computed rather than ‘taken’ or ‘captured.'”Popular Photography magazine