» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Young Galaxy
Young Galaxy
Arts & Crafts

Rating: 8.2/10 ?

June 5, 2007
Who among us doesn't like to stumble upon great music purely by accident? Sure, it's sweet getting referrals from friends and publications like this one, but nothing is quite as satisfying as hanging out in the local bar while a band you've never heard of captures your attention. As I sat sipping Maker's Mark at Tucson's Plush, waiting to see hometown favorites Lagoon, the sweet sounds of spaced-out rock wafted to my ears from the next room. I promptly left my prime spot, shelled out the six bucks, and stood enthralled for 40 minutes as Montreal's Young Galaxy held sway over a sizeable summer crowd. (This is a college town, school's out, it's 100+ degrees, any horde is worth noting).

The recently formed group of four men and two women played a vibrant set of ballads that enveloped the club with rich harmonies, grooving melody lines, and a continuous fog machine that incidentally helped cool the warm air. The musicianship was meticulous, members striking every tambourine, keyboard, guitar and bass note right on cue. Of particular note was the drummer, Pat McGee, who skillfully hit his kit with perfect rhythm and syncopation. I would be amiss, however, if I didn't give kudos to guitarist and singer Stephen Ramsay, who played his axe with his arm in a full cast. Needless to say, I made it a point to get ahold of a copy of their self-titled debut album, and like their live show, it's a definite winner.

Young Galaxy's sound is a melting pot of the burgeoning Montreal art-pop music scene, and their release is another solid addition to the reliable Arts & Crafts label (home of Broken Social Scene, American Analog Set, Feist, and other notables). The band is fronted by two former members of Stars, guitarist/singer Ramsay and keyboardist/singer Catherine McCandless. The album contains contributions from an A-list of Montreal music makers: members of Dears, The Besnard Lakes, A Silver Mt. Zion, and Patrick Watson. Young Galaxy was produced by Besnard Lakes member Jace Lasek, and his imprint is firmly stamped in its sound. Similar to his band's excellent recent album, The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse, Young Galaxy delicately floats on a mellow plane. In doing so, it keeps the band's live energy at bay, which leads to mixed results; had I not just seen the band perform, I would happily take this serene style as is. But in contrast to the live set, I find myself missing the refined vigor that made them mesmerizing on stage.

Musically the album is very strong throughout its entire course; there are no throwaways and several standouts, including the slow-core opener "Swing Your Heartache," with its foreboding sentiment "the frontier is misery." Things get decidedly peppier three songs into the disc on "Outside The City;" with McCandless on lead vocals and a crisp retro bassline, the song is the perfect pop blend of Stars and Cranberries. The elegiac words complement, "sometimes I'm blind/ with lake and evergreens/ pace ourselves/ and edit scenes." "Wailing Wall" would sound right at home in the heyday of classic guitar rock, the harmonic leads recalling Dickey Betts and Duane Allman going at it. "The Sun's Coming Up and My Planes' Going Down" says it all in the title, and the restraint exhibited by the players makes it a captivating listen. Another highlight is "Embers," a gospel flavored acoustic slow burner that, like the lyrics, is longing for that something elusive.

The band saves the best for last with closer "The Alchemy Between Us," and no song better sums up the appeal of Young Galaxy: the melody is beautiful and effortless, the rhythm relaxed and driving. Awash in harmonies and synthesizers, the song - indeed this whole album - would make an ideal soundtrack for Virgin Galactic's future space flights, and their band name certainly doesn't hurt that cause. But right here on planet earth, this young ensemble may be the new rising stars out of the teeming Montreal galaxy.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro



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