Anyone who came of age in the 90s, or even those who came to love 90’s music by acknowledging how songs like Sloan’s “Coax Me” or The Inbred’s “Any Sense of Time” influenced modern Canadian music, will be infatuated with this whopping 32-song anthology. While a nineties sound marks the album, there is some great diversity and unique songs on here too. With “They’ll Make Us Believers” they’re into Vampire Weekend territory, and the bass-and-drum driven “These Streets at Night” conjures up a fabulous sound all their own. Perhaps most notable here is how solid the band is. In a city where everyone plays in everyone’s band these days, a lot of what’s happening now feels like collaborations with a primary songwriter more than a whole band effort, which can produce a hastily recorded, under-ripe album. In the face of this, a strong feature of Sonny Tripp’s music is an undeniable chemistry that makes the band sound cohesive, well-rehearsed, and comfortable creating music together. You can hear it especially in the jams – many songs have well-built, elaborate bridges with impressive moments of pure instrumentation. Also, the sheer number of tracks on this album is a testament to the number of great songs the band can bang out. Hearing 32 songs back to back also illustrates how they can write across the whole soundscape of their genre without feeling one-dimensional and repetitive. And anyone who sticks around for the whole album will be treated to the fact the closing trio of songs are the very best (with all due respect to “Standing in Line.”) “Standing in Line” and “Say Something” ought to be local classics, up there with “Fur Packed Anthem” and Hardship Post’s “Colourblind.”
“Standing in Line” by Sonny Tripp
It’s no stretch to say AM/FM Dreams has released more solid RPM albums than any band in town — they haven’t missed a year since the start, and every album feels different than the last. There is a striking cohesion of sound and concept on This is Where You Belong, yet the songs manage to run the full gamut of tempo, genre, and experimentation. In fact the tracks are so diverse you’d swear a different band wrote each one of them, and yet, the album is not jarringly eclectic, but solidly cohesive, with only track 2 feeling a little out of place on the album (only from a tracklisting perspective: it’s more of a closer than track 2). The banjo-driven album opener “Crow’s Nest,” embraces bluegrass, “Pyramids” flirts with calypso’s swagger, “In My Prime” roars like 90’s rock steeped in pop, and “Boomtown” is bursting with the kind of creativity that made artists like Tune-Yards famous. The album closes with a quiet uke ballad for the aging musician, “Have I Forgotten How to Rock and Roll?” Here’s some sample lines, “punk rock groups grow up to be dads, find new reasons to scream and get mad. Riot grrrls chaperone the high school dance, trade their safety pins for true romance.” It’s a great song that any of us who grew up on mixed tapes and Kurt-and-Courtney will hold dearly in our iTunes collection. All in all, the album is a rollercoaster tour of this versatile band’s unique spin on many genres. It holds your interest track to track on account of its diversity in sound, and it’s one of their finest offerings to date (notable since they have over 10 albums).
“Call the Doctor”
Reviews by Chad Pelley