Tag: Dan Mangan

Off and on over the past handful of years, I’ve written a bit about the Austin, TX-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays  Moving Panoramas.  The act is led by its incredibly accomplished founding member and creative mastermind Leslie Sisson (vocals, guitar), who has had stints in The Wooden Birds, Matt Pond PA, Western Keys, Black Lipstick, Black Forest Fire, Tanworth-in-Arden, and Aero Wave, has collaborated with The American Analog Set, Windsor for the Derby, Rhythm of Black Lines, RIDE’s Mark GardenerDan Mangan, John Wesley Coleman, Snowden, and Broken Social Scene, and has developed a reputation as a solo artist in her own right.

Now, as you may recall Moving Panoramas can trace their origins back to when  the then-Brooklyn-based Sisson returned home to Texas to be closer to the members of her previous band The Wooden Birds and to her family. She took a job teaching at School of Rock where she met Rozie Castoe (bass), who was in an 80s-themed show that Sisson directed. Interestingly, at the same time, Sisson took up a gig subbing in Black Forest Fire with Karen Skloss (drums), who was a long-time friend. When each of their various creative projects broke up, the trio started Moving Panoramas, rooted in their mutual love of shoegaze and released their full-length debut One. However, since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes that has resulted in Sisson collaborating with a rotating cast of previous bandmates and current bandmates Cara Tillman, Jordan Rivell, Jody Suarez and Phil McJunkins.

Slated for release next Friday through Modern Outsider Records, Moving Panoramas’ sophomore album In Two was recorded with engineer Louie Lino at Resonate Studio in Austin and the album reportedly finds the band expanding upon their sound and songwriting approach. Throughout the writing and recording process, there was a concerted effort to consider diversity in rhythm, volume and instrumentation; in fact, some of the album’s material incorporates pedal steel, a first for the band. Additionally, the album will feature guest spots from Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws, A Giant Dog’s and Sweet Spirit’s Sabrina Ellis and former bandmates Karen Skloss, Jolie Flink and Laura Colwell.

Last year, I wrote album single “Baby Blues,” a decidedly anthemic track centered around shimmering power chords, a propulsive rhythm section, ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. And while bringing to mind tracks off Sunflower Bean’Twentytwo in Blue, the track possesses elements of psych rock, shoegaze and 70s arena rock, performed with the easygoing self-assuredness of old pros. Earlier this year, I wrote about album single,  “ADD Heart” and much like its predecessor, it was an infectious and anthemic track centered around jangling guitars, Sisson’s ethereal vocals, a soaring hook and steel pedal guitar, which added an alt-country vibe to the proceedings. In Two’s latest single is the shimmering and moody “In Tune,” which features Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws — and while sonically bearing a resemblance to Dum Dum Girls, the hook driven song is centered by deeply introspective, narrative lyrics that focuses on self-doubt, uncertainty and confusion in a relationship that feels a bit off to both people involved.

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Dan Mangan’s Spectral Cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”

Dan Mangan is a Smithers, British Columbia, Canada-born, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based multi-Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 2003 when he was 20 with the release of his debut EP All At Once. 500 copies were pressed and then sold or given away throughout the Vancouver area. Building upon the initial bit of buzz surrounding him, Mangan financially supported with a bank loan, recorded his Daniel Elemes and Simon Kelly co-produced full-length debut Postcards & Dreaming with the assistance of a small community of musicians, who offered cheap or free session work. Much like All At Once, Mangan initially released his full-length debut independently, selling the album online and at live shows; but by 2007, Vancouver-based indie label File Under: Music re-released the album with new artwork and a new, extra track “Ash Babe.”

August 2009 saw the release of Mangan’s sophomore full-length effort Nice, Nice, Very Nice. Deriving its name from a line Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, the John Critchley-produced album was recorded at Toronto’s Green Door Studios and featured an assortment of Canadian musicians include Veda Hille, Justin Rutledge, Mark Berube, Hannah Georgas, members of Said The Whale, Major Maker and Elliot Brood. The album’s first two singles “Robots” and “Road Regrets” received airplay on local Vancouver radio stations, as well as The Verge and CBC Radio 3 — with Magnan eventually winning Artist of the Year at that year’s Verge Music Awards. 

The following year, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was licensed and released by renowned, Toronto-based indie label Arts & Crafts in the States and in Europe through City Slang Records. Adding to growing critical acclaim surrounding the album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, named iTunes Album of the Year in the singer/songwriter category, won three Western Canadian Music Awards — Independent Album of the Year, Roots/Solo Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. And “Robots” was named Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards. 

Over the course of the next year, Mangan began collaborating with musicians from Vancouver’s experimental music scene, recruiting rummer Kenton Loewen (Mother Mother, Submission Hold and Gord Grdina Trio), bassist John Walsh (Brasstronaut) and guitarist Gord Grdina (Gord Grdina Trio, Haram, and East Van Strings) to be his backing band for the writing and recording sessions that eventually comprised 2011’s Colin Stewart-produced Oh Fortune. Loewen, Walsh and Grdina recruited a large, rotating cast of local musicians including trumpeter JP Carter (Fond of Tigers, Destroyer), violinist Jesse Zubot (Fond of Tigers, Hawksley Workman, Tanya Tagaq), pianist Tyson Naylor and cellist Peggy Lee (Mary Margaret O’Hara, Wayne Horvitz, Veda Hille). Additionally, Magnan enlisted Eyvind Kang to contribute orchestral arrangements. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album winning Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year with nominations for Songwriter of the Year and Video of the year for the Jon Busby-produced video for “Rows of Houses.” The album won three Western Canadian Music Awards for “Rock Album of the Year,” Independent Album of the Year,” and “Songwriter of the Year.” Also, the album was long-listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize. Lastly, “Rows of Houses” won Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards, making Mangan the winningest artist in the award’s history — and the only artist to date that has won in the Best Song category multiple times. 

Credited to Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 2015’s Club Meds found Magnan and his backing band of Grdina, Loewen, Walsh, Naylor, Carter and Zubot focusing on core band contributions — and while critically applauded, the album wasn’t as commercially successful as its predecessor. Since then, Mangan released the digitally released EP Unmake, which featured a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me,” stripped down versions of “Kitsch” and “Forgetery,” off Club Meds and an acoustic version of “Whistleblower,” re-worked from the original 6/8 time to 4/4 time and contributions from Tegan and Sara’s Tegan Quin, and drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep and Holy Fuck). Mangan has also done a few film and TV scores, including the CBC/AMC series Unspeakable, headed the Arts & Crafts Records imprint Madic Records, which released albums by Walrus and Astral Swans, who he has produced. During this exceedingly busy period, the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist took some time off and became a father before writing and releasing his latest album the Drew Brown-produced, More or Less, an album that Mangan claims “feels more like ‘me’ than ever.” 

The critically applauded Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is currently in the middle of a lengthy tour to support his latest effort, and it includes a March 14, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. (You can check out the tour dates below.) And to celebrate the tour, and its inclusion in the trailer for Unspeakable, Mangan released a spectral, Peter Gabriel-like cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” that’s centered around a looped guitar line, twinkling jazz-like keys and Magnan’s plaintive vocals. Admittedly, while I’ve been a huge R.E.M. fan for most of my life, I’ve hated “Losing My Religion” for many years because it was played way to death and then some throughout 1991 and 1992; but Mangan’s cover reminds me of the original song’s mysterious quality and weary ache. “When I was a kid, R.E.M. was a staple in my household,” says Mangan. “I remember air guitaring to this song with my brother and sister. It was such a massive hit but also so unlikely a candidate to be so. The chorus isn’t really a chorus. It’s long. It’s repetitive. It’s like a hypnotic cyclical trance of words that stick with you even if you have no idea what they’re about. I really wanted to try and approach it from a new angle. There’s no point in attempting to sing like Michael Stipe — there is only one Michael Stipe. So I tried my best to let it live in a new light while paying homage to the original.”

New Video: Moving Panoramas Return with Slick Visuals for Jangling and Anthemic New Single “ADD Heart”

Led by founding member and creative mastermind Leslie Sisson (vocals, guitar), who has had stints in The Wooden Birds, Matt Pond PA, Western Keys, Black Lipstick, Black Forest Fire, Tanworth-in-Arden, and Aero Wave, collaborated with The American Analog Set, Windsor for the Derby, Rhythm of Black Lines, RIDE’s Mark Gardener, Dan Mangan, John Wesley Coleman, Snowden, and Broken Social Scene, and has developed a reputation as a solo artist in her own right, the Austin, TX-based dream pop act Moving Panoramas can trace their origins to when its founding member and creative mastermind returned home to Texas to be closer to the members of her previous full-time band The Wooden Birds and her to her family. Sisson took a job teaching music at School of Rock where she met Rozie Castoe (bass),  who was in an 80s-themed show that Sisson directed. Interestingly, at the same time, Sisson took up a gig subbing in Black Forest Fire with Karen Skloss (drums), who was a long-time friend. When each of their various creative projects broke up, the trio started Moving Panoramas, rooted in their mutual love of shoegaze; however, since the band’s formation and release of their debut effort One, the band has gone through a series off lineup changes that has result in Sisson collaborating with a rotating cast of previous bandmates, as well as current bandmates Cara Tillman, Jordan Rivell, Jody Suarez and Phil McJunkins.

Moving Panoramas’ sophomore album In Two was delayed by a series of unexpected roadblocks during its production — i.e., health and timing issues — that delayed its release until February 22, 2019 through Modern Outsider Records. Recorded with engineer Louie Lino at Resonate Studio in Austin, the band’s sophomore effort reportedly finds the band expanding upon their sound and songwriting approach, as there’s a concerted effort for diversity in rhythm, volume and instrumentation, including the incorporation of pedal steel. Along with that the album features guest spots from Nada Surf‘s Matthew Caws, A Giant Dog‘s and Sweet Spirit‘s Sabrina Ellis and former bandmates Karen Skloss, Jolie Flink and Laura Colwell. Now, as you may recall, last year I wrote about album single “Baby Blues,” a decidedly anthemic track centered around shimmering power chords, a propulsive rhythm section, ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. And while bringing to mind tracks off Sunflower Bean’s Twentytwo in Blue, the track possesses elements of psych rock, shoegaze and 70s arena rock, performed with the easygoing self-assuredness of old pros; however, underneath the self-assured performances is the recognition of time rushing by, of people moving in and out of your life — without knowing why, how or even when. 

Much like its predecessor, “ADD Heart,” In Two’s latest single is an infectious slice of anthemic rock with jangling guitars, Sisson’s ethereal vocals and a soaring hook — but steel pedal guitar adds a cinematic, alt country vibe to the proceedings. Thematically, the song focuses on an inattentive and inconstant love interest, who has the song’s narrator spinning in frustration emotionally because the love interest just can’t seem to focus on one thing at any given time. It’s an accurate description of what love and dating is like in the social media age if there ever was one. 

The recently released video for the song was directed by Willi Patton, and as Patton says in press notes, “We were honored to be approached by Leslie Sisson of Moving Panoramas to do a music video for their new single, ‘ADD Heart.’ I knew immediately upon hearing the song that the energy needed to be high, and I really wanted to capture the feeling of not being able to focus, narratively as if the video itself suffers from ADD. It pushes you along in one direction, only to quickly switch course, pick up on some other thread, leaving more unanswered questions than resolutions. We’re always so grateful to musicians for letting us experiment, to treat their work as a solid canvas to splash some paint on, deconstruct and then clumsily attempt to put back together.”

New Video: Moving Panoramas Release a Mischievous Crime Caper-Like Visuals

Led by founding member and creative mastermind Leslie Sisson (vocals, guitar), who has had stints in The Wooden Birds, Matt Pond PA, Western Keys, Black Lipstick, Black Forest Fire, Tanworth-in-Arden, and Aero Wave, collaborated with The American Analog Set, Windsor for the Derby, Rhythm of Black Lines, RIDE’s Mark Gardener, Dan Mangan, John Wesley Coleman, Snowden, and Broken Social Scene, and has developed a reputation as a solo artist in her own right, the Austin, TX-based dream pop act Moving Panoramas can trace their origins to when its founding member and creative mastermind returned home to Texas to be closer to the members of her previous full-time band The Wooden Birds and her to her family. Sisson took a job teaching music at School of Rock where she met Rozie Castoe (bass),  who was in an 80s-themed show that Sisson directed. Interestingly, at the same time, Sisson took up a gig subbing in Black Forest Fire with Karen Skloss (drums), who was a long-time friend. When each of their various creative projects broke up, the trio started Moving Panoramas, rooted in their mutual love of shoegaze; however, since the band’s formation and release of their debut effort One, the band has gone through a series off lineup changes that has result in Sisson collaborating with a rotating cast of previous bandmates, as well as current bandmates Cara Tillman, Jordan Rivell, Jody Suarez and Phil McJunkins.

Moving Panoramas’ sophomore album In Two was delayed by a series of unexpected roadblocks during its production — i.e., health and timing issues — that delayed its release until February 22, 2019 through Modern Outsider Records. Recorded with engineer Louie Lino at Resonate Studio in Austin, the band’s sophomore effort reportedly finds the band expanding upon their sound and songwriting approach, as there’s a concerted effort for diversity in rhythm, volume and instrumentation, including the incorporation of pedal steel. Along with that the album features guest spots fromNada Surf‘s Matthew Caws, A Giant Dog‘s and Sweet Spirit‘s Sabrina Ellis and former bandmates Karen Skloss, Jolie Flink and Laura Colwell.

The album’s latest single “Baby Blues” is a decidedly anthemic track, centered around shimmering power chords, a propulsive rhythm section, ethereal vocals and a soaring hook that recalls Sunflower Bean’s Twentytwo in Blue as the song seems to draw from psych rock, shoegaze and 70s arena rock performed with the easygoing self-assuredness of old pros; but underneath the self-assured performance, there’s the recognition of time rushing by, of people moving in and out of your life — sometimes without even knowing why or how. As the song seems to say, “Remember friends, life is confusing and when you think you may have handle on it, life will throw a monkey wrench or two your way — and you’ll get through it somehow, some way.”

Directed by the band’s Leslie Sisson, the recently released video is part mischievous, Miami Vice-like crime caper with the members of the band smuggling a substance dubbed “Baby Blue,” and part performance video — with the band playing in a studio and on the beach. It’s goofy and yet it still manages to capture (and evoke) the song’s anthemic nature. 

Led by founding member and creative mastermind Leslie Sisson (vocals, guitar), who has had stints in The Wooden Birds, Matt Pond PA, Western Keys, Black Lipstick, Black Forest Fire, Tanworth-in-Arden, and Aero Wave, collaborated with The American Analog Set, Windsor for the Derby, Rhythm of Black Lines, RIDE’s Mark GardenerDan Mangan, John Wesley Coleman, Snowden, and Broken Social Scene, and has developed a reputation as a solo artist in her own right, the Austin, TX-based dream pop act Moving Panoramas can trace their origins to when its founding member and creative mastermind returned home to Texas to be closer to the members of her previous full-time band The Wooden Birds and her to her family. Sisson took a job teaching music at School of Rock where she met Rozie Castoe (bass),  who was in an 80s-themed show that Sisson directed. Interestingly, at the same time, Sisson took up a gig subbing in Black Forest Fire with Karen Skloss (drums), who was a long-time friend. When each of their various creative projects broke up, the trio started Moving Panoramas, rooted in their mutual love of shoegaze; however, since the band’s formation and release of their debut effort One, the band has gone through a series off lineup changes that has result in Sisson collaborating with a rotating cast of previous bandmates, as well as current bandmates Cara Tillman, Jordan Rivell, Jody Suarez and Phil McJunkins.

Moving Panoramas’ sophomore album In Two was delayed by a series of unexpected roadblocks during its production — i.e., health and timing issues — that delayed its release until February 22, 2019 through Modern Outsider Records. Recorded with engineer Louie Lino at Resonate Studio in Austin, the band’s sophomore effort reportedly finds the band expanding upon their sound and songwriting approach, as there’s a concerted effort for diversity in rhythm, volume and instrumentation, including the incorporation of pedal steel. Along with that the album features guest spots from Nada Surf‘s Matthew Caws, A Giant Dog‘s and Sweet Spirit‘s Sabrina Ellis and former bandmates Karen Skloss, Jolie Flink and Laura Colwell.

The album’s latest single “Baby Blues” is a decidedly anthemic track, centered around shimmering power chords, a propulsive rhythm section, ethereal vocals and a soaring hook that recalls Sunflower Bean’Twentytwo in Blue as the song seems to draw from psych rock, shoegaze and 70s arena rock performed with the easygoing self-assuredness of old pros; but underneath the self-assured performance, there’s the recognition of time rushing by, of people moving in and out of your life — sometimes without even knowing why or how. As the song seems to say, “Remember friends, life is confusing and when you think you may have handle on it, life will throw a monkey wrench or two your way — and you’ll get through it somehow, some way.”

 

New Video: Introducing the Power Chord-based Rock of Vancouver’s SAVVIE

Savannah Wellman is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose solo recording project SAVVIE as Wellman described in an email to me “is sexy, gritty rock ‘n’ roll, delving into the murky depths of lust, love, and everything in between.” Wellman’s latest single “Creature of Habit,” is the follow up to 2015’s debut effort Night Eyes, and the power chord-based, arena rock and radio friendly hook-driven single was produced by John Raham, who has worked with The Belle Game, Dan Mangan, and Dralms sounds as though the Canadian singer/songwriter was drawing from The Black Keys, as well as JOVM mainstays The Coathangers and Anna Rose. As the Vancouver-based singer/songwriter explains in press notes “everyone has their vice, and ‘Creature of Habit’ begs the question — is that a bad thing? is it worth fighting? Sometimes it most definitely is, but sometimes we need to hold on to what makes us happy.” 

Directed by Nakasone Folk, the video as Wellman told Billboard is “a take on the idea of struggling with trying to be different. It kind of takes us through a cleansing, the idea of wanting to let go and cleanse yourself of these habits that you might hold onto, but at the end seeing in your reflection that they never really leave you. It’s still a a part of you, and maybe in some cases, it’s not all that bad. Some habits can get the best of you, and sometimes they’re the release you need.” And as a result, the video features a lot of inky and murky blacks, brilliant and heavenly whites, and mystical cleansing rituals; it’s sexy but darkly so and fitting. 

Comprised of Leslie Sisson (vocals, guitar), best known as a member of The Wooden Birds, Matt Pond PA, Western Keys, Black Lipstick, Black Forest Fire, Tanworth-in-Arden, and Aero Wave, collaborations with The American Analog Set, Windsor for the Derby, Rhythm of Black Lines, RIDE‘s Mark GardenerDan Mangan, John Wesley Coleman, Snowden, and Broken Social Scene, as well as a solo artist; Rozie Castoe (bass); and Karen Skloss (drums), a member of Black Forest Fire,  the Austin, TX-based dream pop trio Moving Panoramas can trace their origins to when Sisson had returned to home to Texas to be closer to the members of her previous full-time band The Wooden Birds and her family. Sisson took on a job teaching music at School of Rock where she met Castoe, who was in an ’80s show that Sisson directed. And while this was going on Sisson was subbing on bass in Black Forest Fire with Skloss, who was a longtime friend and former graduate film school student. When each individual member’s various projects broke up, the trio of Sisson, Castoe and Skloss decided to form a band together, based on their mutual love of shoegaze.

The trio has been praised by the likes of NPRTom Tom MagazineAustin Chronicle and others, and as a result they’ve seen a rapidly growing local and national profile for their full-length album One, which possesses a sound that’s indebted to 4AD Records, 90s alt rock and classic shoegaze; in fact, the album’s first single and album title track “One” sounds as though it could have been recording and released in the 80s as the band pairs shimmering guitar chords, a tight groove, propulsive drumming and anthemic hooks with gorgeous harmonies with Sisson’s gorgeous crooning. To my ears the song reminds me quite a bit of The Sundays, The Go-Gos and even contemporary acts like Seapony. The album’s second single “Radar” is a shimmering and slow-burning ballad that employs the use of a gorgeous harmony, and sonically speaking the song sounds as though it draws from 120 Minutes MTV-era alt rock but with a subtly modern sheen. In some way, both songs evoke road trips — the sense of endless possibility and adventure; the regrets and mistakes you’re leaving behind; and the road and horizon rushing past your window . . .

Moving Panoramas will be on a rather extensive tour throughout the Spring which includes several SXSW sets and two NYC area dates. Check out tour dates below.

SXSW SHOWS:
March 13th @ Spider House (Main Patio Stage) – 2908 Fruth St at 9PM
March 13th @ The Volstead – 1500 E 6th St at 1AM
March 14th @ Boat Show on Lady Bird Lake – 208 Barton Springs Rd – 3:30PM
March 15th @  The Sidewinder (Inside Stage) – 715 Red River at 12AM
March 16th @ Hotel Vegas (Patio Stage) – 1500 E 6th St at 2PM
March 16th @ Scratch House (Backyard Stage) – 617 E 7th St at 11PM
March 17th @ El Sapo Cantina – 1900 Manor Rd at 3PM
March 18th @ Maggie Mae’s – 323 E 6th St at 12:45PM
March 18th @ Guacamole Showdown – COLLiDE on Rainey at 3PM
March 18th @ Hotel Vegas Annex – 1504 E 6th St at 6:30PM
March 19th @ Street Legal Guitars (Storefront Stage) – 2200 E 7th St at 3 PM
March 19th @ TOMS Austin – 1401 South Congress at 5PM

Tour Dates:

03/23 – Dallas, TX – Crown & Harp
03/24 – Tulsa, OK – The Vanguard
03/25 – Springfield, MO – Outlands
03/26 – Kansas City, MO – Replay Lounge
03/27 – Lincoln, NB – Duffy’s
03/28 – Rock Island, IL – Rozz-Tox
03/29 – Madison, WI – Mickey’s
03/30 – Chicago, IL – Tonic Room
03/31 – Milwaukee, WI – Cactus Club
04/01 – Fort Wayne, IN – The Tiger Room
04/02 – Grand Rapids, MI – Pyramid Scheme
04/04 – Toronto, ON – Silver Dollar
04/05 – Montreal, QC – L’Escogriffe
04/06 – Boston, MA – O’Brien’s Pub
04/07 – New York, NY – Pianos
04/08 – Brooklyn, NY – Union Hall
04/09 – Asbury Park, NJ – The Saint
04/10 – Richmond, VA – Strange Matter
04/11 – Asheville, NC – The Mothlight
04/13 – Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre Roof
04/14 – Atlanta, GA – 529
04/15 – Nashville, TN – TBA
04/21 – Austin, TX – The Scoot Inn – w/ Brass Bed
05/13 – Austin, TX – Barracuda
05/14 – Marfa, TX – Lost Horse
05/15 – Phoenix, AZ – Rhythm Room
05/16 – Los Angeles, CA – TBA
05/18 – San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge
05/20 – Portland, OR – Kelly’s Olympian
05/21 – Seattle, WA – The Black Lodge
05/22 – Missoula, MO – TBA
05/24 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater *
05/25 – Kansas City, MO – Crossroads *
05/28 – Dallas, TX – Granada Theater *
05/29 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall **

* w/ Nada Surf
** w/ Nada Surf, Flaming Lips, Roky Erickson, Lucero, Title Fight, Diiv

Now, if you’re been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of months, you might recall that I’ve written about the  Victoria, BC-based quintet Astrocolor. Comprised of Andrew Poirier (guitar), Anand Greenwell (saxophone), Chris Mackenzie (drums), William Farrant (bass), and Piers Henwood (guitar), the Canadian quintet decided that they wanted to tackle traditional and familiar Christmas songs for their latest recoded effort, Lit Up: Music for Christmas.

Featuring guest vocals from KandleRykkaJets Overhead‘s Antonia Freybe-Smith, and Abi Rose and co-produced by the Canadian quintet and Colin Stewart, best known for his work with Black MountainDan Mangan and AC Newman, the compositional and sonic approach was largely inspired by jazz great Stan Getz’Getz Au Go-Go, as well as Massive AttackAir and St. Germain. As the band explained in press notes, Stan Getz’s rendition of “Summertime,” “became a jumping off point for what we were trying to do, taking the classic ‘summertime and the livin’ is easy’  hook and reshaping it into an exploratory piece. We too wanted to create a sense of familiarity and exploration within the context of a Christmas album.”

The album’s first single “We Three Kings” was a noir-ish and moodily atmospheric song that managed to sound as though it owed a sonic debt to jazz, as much as it did to dubstep and trip-hop as Abi Rose’s seductive, jazz standard vocal stylings were paired with a mournful horn line, swirling electronics, angular, funk guitar and bass and plinking keys submerged in layers of reverb to craft a cinematic and sensual rendition of a familiar and beloved holiday song. The album’s latest single is a dubby and jazz-leaning rendition of “Sleigh Bells” that pairs Rose’s husky, jazz standard vocal stylings with angular bass lines, twisting and turning guitar chords played through gentle amounts of feedback and wah wah pedal, and warm blasts of expressive horns and subtly slows down the song’s familiar tempo and melody to create a trippy and breezy rendition of a beloved Christmas song we’ve all sung at some point — while sounding as though it drew influence from the Josh Roseman Unit‘s dub-leaning rendition of Burt Bacharach‘s “Long Day, Short Night.” And it does while reminding the listener of the song’s playful nature.

Comprised of Andrew Poirier (guitar), Anand Greenwell (saxophone), Chris Mackenzie (drums), William Farrant (bass), and Piers Henwood (guitar), the  Victoria, BC-based quintet Astrocolor decided that they wanted to tackle Christmas songs for their forthcoming album Lit Up: Music for Christmas. Featuring guest vocals from Kandle, Rykka, Jets Overhead‘s Antonia Freybe-Smith, and Abi Rose and co-produced by the Canadian quintet and Colin Stewart, best known for his work with Black Mountain, Dan Mangan and AC Newman, the approach to the album was largely inspired by jazz great Stan Getz’s Getz Au Go-Go, as well as Massive Attack, Air and St. Germain. As the band explained in press notes, Stan Getz’s rendition of “Summertime,” ” became a jumping off point for what we were trying to do, taking the classic ‘summertime and the livin’ is easy’  hook and reshaping it into an exploratory piece. We too wanted to create a sense of familiarity and exploration within the context of a Christmas album.”

“We Three Kings,” the first single off Lit Up: Music for Christmas is a noir-ish and moodily atmospheric song that sounds as though it owes as much of a sonic debt to jazz as it does to dubstep and trip hop as Abi Rose’s seductive, jazz standard vocal stylings are paired with a mournful horn line, swirling electronics, angular, funk guitar and bass, and plinking keys submerged in layers upon layers of reverb to craft a rendition of a familiar song that’s hauntingly mournful and cinematic — while being simultaneously intimate and sensual.

I’ve played the song a number of times before writing this post, and every time I can picture the three kings with their gifts riding through moonlit, desert skies to Bethlehem to see the baby Christ. But perhaps more important, it puts a modern spin on to a song that many of us have heard so much that its meaning and importance has been reduced to background music at the mall or in a commercial.