Indigo Joseph zip, zoom and zig-zag across the stylistic map
by Aidan Morgan
Indigo Joseph can’t settle down. Either that or Indigo Joseph is actually a code name for a five-band collective. From track to track on Collage, Indigo Joseph sound like: a New Romantic revival outfit, a folk-rock group, a ’90s rap-rock band, an ambitious garage-rock band and God knows what else. Oh, and several of the songs are delivered in slippery, rapid-fire French, which adds a whole new dimension to the sound.
Collage is Indigo Joseph’s first full-length studio album, and it shows (in a good way). The ambitious and sometimes virtuoso genre-hopping resembles a group of kids pulling every toy at once from the box and playing with them to the point of exhaustion. The band is happy to start off with “Opus III”, which sounds like a core sample drilled from the glacier of early ’80s new wave, and slide right into “Dumb Animals”, which I can best liken to Kurt Vile trying out calypso. The rest of the album slips and jumps between genres, all of it done with such confidence and sheer joy that the band never feels as if they’re stepping out of their element.
The only downside of employing so many styles is that it’s hard to get a clear picture of the band’s sound and character. The scruffy vocals provide some continuity, but it’s hard to connect the chilly melodies of “Opus III” with the folk-rock twang of “Simple Minds” or the straight-up garage thrash of “Pills”. Given the pleasures of Collage, though, this is a minor quibble. One day Indigo Joseph may calm down and start producing albums with more stylistic focus. But I kind of hope it doesn’t happen too soon.
The BellaDonnas and the Temps
Cheeky of this Saskatoon band to assume that when people listen to their debut EP, they’ll be sufficiently impressed to thank them. With the caveat that the four tunes here clock in at 11 minutes and five seconds total, this is a sweet piece of no-nonsense punk. Fronted by Sheena Treemer (vocals, guitar) with Rebecca Corvette (bass) and Jordan Mann (drums), the trio claims the Distillers, Misfits and Peaches as influences. The last is especially evident in the band’s frank approach to sexuality and relations between women and men. In “Die Alone”, Treemer shoots down a jerk who’s trying to pick her up, while in “Hate Sex” she begs a jerk she doesn’t even like to fuck her. Then there’s “Serial Love”, where a “devil” drugs a woman in a bar, then rapes and kills her. Powerful stuff. So, thanks, ladies. /Gregory Beatty
At one time, the intersection of blues, roots music, country, old-time rock ’n’ roll, bluegrass and folk probably seemed like an unfathomably disparate and unique pastiche of genres. Nowadays, though, that particular mix has codified into something approaching an archetype, or worse, a stereotype. T.B. Judd and his band do little to break out of the bar band mould on Manhattan Haze, with the exception of one secret weapon: Judd himself. His Tom Waits-esque growl adds a delightfully atonal edge to otherwise rote songwriting on tunes like “Dirty Gin” or “Hometown Bar”, which are exactly as alcohol-soaked and musically unadventurous as their titles suggest. Manhattan Haze is competently performed and recorded, with all of the expected beats being hit, both melodically and lyrically. But it’s just not enough to escape the sense that it’s the sort of music one might half-listen to about six pints in at the Gaslight Saloon (R.I.P., you beautiful dive, you). /Matthew Blackwell
Headless Owl and You’ve Changed
Gene Siskel’s most famous rule as a film critic: “Is this film more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch?” The musical equivalent for me is big-name groups tossed together with mics and songs, trying to capture something magic. In 2013, Canadian labels Headless Owl and You’ve Changed Records dispatched good chunks of their rosters to the Yukon to write and record an album. Cramming everyone together like that has its risks. The album can be gloriously eclectic, or it can sound disjointed. The playing can be spontaneous and beautifully shambolic, or just sloppy. Northern Register gets it right. The artists, including members of Baby Eagle, Construction and Deconstruction and Marine Dreams, are diverse, but united by a shared aesthetic. Plus, there’s the joy of disparate elements mixing together –– Mathias of the Burning Hell’s deep vocals in the background of Wax Mannequin’s track, for instance, or Shotgun Jimmie lightening the mood while Michael Feuerstack brings it down. /James Brotheridge