In Review...The Album Leaf, Yeasayer

>> Friday, 5 March 2010

The Album Leaf 

A Chorus of Storytellers

Elegantly stylish one-man band Jimmy LaValle – aka The Album Leaf – has made a career out of successfully marrying electronic textures to acoustic ones. Past outings such as the excellent Seal Beach EP have been deeply gorgeous, spacious compositions with little-to-no vocals and little-to-no contributions from other musicians.

With A Chorus of Storytellers, LaValle has let a full band into his carefully orchestrated world of pop-leaning electronics, opting to work alongside his touring band while laying down tracks in the studio. Not surprisingly, it’s his most organic-sounding LP to date.

Chorus is still saturated in late-night, spooky and often melodic ambience, the stuff The Album Leaf’s career was made of. The remote children’s voices on airy opener “Perro” are arrestingly beautiful and, well, signature LaValle; contrast this with the front-and-centre live-sounding drums on “Stand Still” and its clear LaValle’s new vision is working. He just needs to explore it a little further. And add a few more vocals.

-Mykael Sopher

Choice Cuts: “Until the Last”, “Stand Still”, “There is a Wind”
R.I.Y.D. Sigur Rós, Explosions in the Sky, Stars of the Lid
Label: Sub Pop


Odd Blood

It can be difficult to categorize new music into genres these days, and Brooklyn-based Yeasayer are no exception.

After appearing on the summer, indie roll-call compilation, Dark Was the Night, Yeasayer follow up their 2007 debut, All Hour Cymbals, with their brand of experimental rock.  Odd Blood feels brighter than its moody predecessor and lead single, “Ambling Alp”, reflects this change.  The lyrics (“stick up for yourself son/never mind what anybody else done”) are heartening, yet feel lost against an intricate backdrop of drums and horns.

Yeasayer’s music can be described as dense, with transitions often quick and seamless.  But, on “Madder Red” the band strips down to allow Chris Keating’s darker lyrics (“It's getting hard to keep pretending/I'm worth your time”) to surface before the band turns up the tempo on “Mondegreen,” “O.N.E.,” and “Rome” to mixed results.

Odd Blood finds Yeasayer adding more elements to an already complicated formula.  Let’s hope it doesn’t take three years to hear what’s next.

-Daniel Camaclang

Choice Cuts: “Madder Red”, “Mondegreen”, “Ambling Alp”
R.I.Y.D.:  TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, Depeche Mode
Label:  Secretly Canadian


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