Scott Royle | Sweat Shop CropTop
If Family Video’s albums had a boyfriend, that was an album, that album would sound the way Scott Royle’s Sweatshop Crop Top sounds. That is stated only to convey to fans of local music what kind of album this is. Sweatshop Crop Top is a gritty and revitalizing spin on the yesteryear Seattle sound. Royle and Jen King of Family Video do have a lot in common as songwriters, including vulnerable voices that demand and get your attention, and the fact they share a rhythm section in drummer Jake Nicoll and bassist Noah Bender – two musicans who have developed notable musical chemistry and comfort in playing together, which you can hear on display here. But Royle and King’s similarities end there (unless regal-sounding last names count too). Scott’s album is a harder-hitting breed this genre: Royle’s songs are rockers. It’s power chord rock, but the riffs roam and roar in way that makes the songs more interesting than mainstream rock; there’s a frenetic energy in his songs reminiscent of local cohorts like Maans, making it a timely release. While we all love St. John’s folk heroes, a resurgence of rock these last few years is more than welcome, and Royle’s breed of rock is a welcome addition to it. His choice of guitar textures have all the right tones for his tunes, and Noah Bender’s basslines add great energy to the album. Standouts for your next playlist include “Nosebleeder,” “PYOT,” and “chma.” All in all, the album is unapologetic for its lack of diversity in sound, and proper thing: an album that features so much spit imagery and bleeding distortion needn’t try and be anything but in your face.
“pyot” by Scott Royle
Andrew Stanley | Western Trip
Andrew Stanley, not to be confused with Avalon Stanley, just released the kind of album any songwriter will appreciate. Arresting and unpredictable, the ten songs on Western Trip are unrelenting in their originality and careful construction. Everything from haunting xylophones to unusual basslines are employed to fill and build the songs, and whatever the guitar is doing in “Satu-mare,” you’ve probably never heard anyone do it before. The album goes beyond impressive instrumentation to display remarkable recording and mixing too, which makes such a big difference because an album this creative deserves the inventive and song-bettering mix these gems have been given. Back-up vocals meander left to right, or effects ring to bring motion and fluidity to these songs that makes them all the more easy to be struck by. There’s a confidence at play here too, or at least a fearlessness in experimentation on tracks like “Dragostea Mea” that employs whistling, reggae-leaning calypso swagger, and magically panned background humming. “Dragostea Mea” is a serious contender for the best local song of the year. If none of this is painting a clear picture of the album, just imagine Belle & Sebastian at their very finest, song after song, or a chilled out version of Of Montreal, and that’s a moderately close approximation of what this uncommonly good album sounds like. And more important than how good it is, is how unique it is. You’ve never heard a Newfoundland album quite like this. The only trouble with the album is the opening 2 tracks aren’t in the same league as tracks 3-10, so, only the patient listener will
bask in the album’s glory.
“Dragostea Mea” by Andrew Stanley