Archive for June, 2008

Dr. Dog: FATE (Album Review)

June 28th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Dr. Dog
(Park The Van Records; 2008)

When I first checked out Dr. Dog, I was impressed with their exquisite pop sensibilities but less so by how they used them. Like Sloan and Locksley, their power pop often veered a little too much towards the “pop” and not enough towards the “power“, and after a couple songs it all just gets boring. On their new album, FATE, they take Wilco’s Being There as a folk-rock-power-pop template and inject everything with pop-hook-boosting-steroids, ending up with a gorgeous sounding album that’s amazingly melodic and expertly constructed.
The album begins with “The Breeze”, which starts off with Tweedy-esque vocals followed by Abbey Road-style harmonies. The song builds up as it progresses, ending with a beautiful woodwinds section a la “Strawberry Fields”. “Hang On” harkens to the alt-country-soul of Sky Blue Sky with more Beatles harmonies. The piano-based “The Old Days” changes things up a bit, as do the dark funky “The Ark” and psych-gospel tinged “The Beach”, but other than that it’s the same beautiful formula all the way through.
The lyrics on the album show Dr. Dog stretching themselves and attempting to make some grand statements about life and living. The ambition pays off and gives the album an epic scope and cohesion. Were Dr. Dog trying to write a really catchy Steinbeck novel? I wouldn’t be surprised if such were the case. There’s definitely evidence of some kind of hard earned wisdom in the beautifully melancholy contained in tracks like “Hang On”, “Army of Ancients”, “The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer” and closer “My Friends”.
The title FATE may carry connotations a little too strong for an album as insanely catchy as this one, but like Pet Sounds (referenced by the train sounds at the end of this album), FATE manages to put everything in perspective and recognize that the pain is just one part of a big beautiful picture. Dr. Dog have met their fate head on and produced an incredible album.

Katie Stelmanis

June 7th, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band/artist of the week took me by surprise. I had heard of her but I didn’t really know how. Her name was just floating around. I got hold of the album out of curiosity and when I started listening to it, I was very surprised and very impressed. This weeks artist of the week is…


Katie Stelmanis is a Toronto artist who is signed to/part of the Blocks Recording Club, a group/record label for experimental artists in Toronto. It was once home to Final Fantasy before he moved on to larger success. Listening to Stelmanis’ album “Join Us”, it’s unsurprising that she once shared a label with him. They have that sort of classically influenced, experimental, almost operatic or theatrical mentality. Most impressive is that I really can’t think of any artists who quite sound anything like her. Maybe an Evanescence if they didn’t suck balls.

Her album, “Join Us” is an album crafted mainly with electronics which are used to form a sound far more organic than one would expect. There’s a bit of piano and drums (which may be drum machines actually) but mainly it’s cheap electronics that are used very efficiently. She doesn’t sound overtly electronic is what I’m trying to say. Her singing is remiscent of Amber Webber (of Black Mountain and Lightning Dust) with it’s quavering eeriness that they both learned from Grace Slick. The music itself is very dark and strangely constructed like some kind of bizzare iron machine. At times it can be quit affecting and almost downright scary.

While I doubt Stelmanis’ efforts will be climbing the charts too soon, she could very easily become the next Laurie Anderson and if so, marrying the next Lou Reed might not be such a bad future.

If you’d like to hear “Join Us”, unfortunately it’s not too easy to find. Try the “Toronto Independent” section at Soundscapes. Otherwise, I’m not really sure where you’d find it without buy it off her myspace.

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