wolf parade / greg macpherson / upwards and onwards!
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Wolf Parade played a house-party in Montreal on Saturday night, and Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock was in attendance. So was my friend Dan. Isaac told Dan he was his "biggest fan." We'll never know why Isaac was in Montreal, but I think it's fair to speculate that he was here to see Wolf Parade. Last summer, Win of the Arcade Fire called the the best band in the world, and now rumour has it they've been signed to Sub Pop. They're originally from Victoria. They're a fourpiece. Their members play synths, drums, guitar, and laptop/theremin. And their guitarist is the coolest man alive: Jack White crossed with James Dean.

I've gotta admit, the band's not always to my taste - sometimes there's too much mess, too much purposeless back-and-forthing, - but at their best Wolf Parade provide an acrid blast of yellow-and-grey rock, brilliantly sharp new wave, Joy Division crossed with the Decemberists. I can't wait to hear what they do in a proper studio: and neither should you.

Wolf Parade - "Dinner Bells". Off their self-released EP, this is a long, rock dirge; a guitar that staggers alongside a wavering organ; a mournful song for death, and in the end, recovered life. Harmonica like a lone streetlight in the middle of the night, drums like the heartbeat that somehow keeps beating, a tune like a convertible shooting into flames. Listen to that electric guitar as it turns and whirls and falls, listen to the sounds that come out of the smoke.

Wolf Parade - "This Heart is On Fire" [live]. Recorded by Dan a couple months ago - and it sounds as good as something from a lofi studio. A rocker with a pounding bass-drum and ravaged vox, thrusting synths to drive feet on a dance-floor. At 2:30 there's a frenzy of feeling with a silver corona, and yet it keeps going, running and rutting forward. "Sometimes you rock and roll / I'd rather stay at home" - I don't really believe him.

Finally, as offered-and-requested, OutKast - "Ghettomusick [Benny Benassi remix]". (Thanks, Mark!) The hip-hop original's been cut apart to make way for straight-ahead club synths and an indisputable call to dance. I can't help but repeat what I said last week: this'll make you rock out "like an electric motherfucking flower," strutting and preening and curling toward sunshine. And wearing sunglasses. Techno with big-beat bump and a smiling over-the-shoulder glance at Big Boi/Dre.

Saw two shows this weekend: Sunday night was Dragana - a six-voice women's choir that does mostly Macedonian folk stuff, in the style of the Voix Bulgaires. They were very competent, and in places - particularly the songs with only 2 or 3 women singing - genuinely haunting (sad, real, true). Also performing with them were a goofy, extremely likable barbershop quartet called Four Brothers: basically a bunch of college boys goofing off, arranging old yiddish folk songs, and singing in tight harmonies. They wrestled a bit on stage.

Also saw Greg Macpherson, solo, on Friday night. The show only affirmed my belief that right now, Greg is one of the very greatest talents in Canada. In fact, if last Friday was any indication, he's got it in him to be as good as Billy Bragg, Joe Strummer, or Woody Guthrie - no joke. The man uses his guitar like a muscle - it is loud, shining, fierce, - his lyrics are crisp and fresh, his voice is a strong, thick song, and not simply a rocker's yell. Although I was disappointed by his recent EP (too plain, too acoustic, too boring in its politics), Good Times was a marvel, and there was too bright a flame in his eyes to think that the next LP will be anything less. Remarkable. (Sorry, Hayden.)

For the next month or so, as John is en route to his new home-base (best of luck!), I'll be managing the behind-the-scenes at The Tofu Hut. Do keep reading - it's one fine song every single day, with full commentary by mr forksclovetofu. When all is said and done, Tofu Hut is probably the best musicblog on the net: eclectic playlists, fantastic descriptions, astute research, boundless enthusiasm, and exquisite taste.

Posted by Sean at April 20, 2004 1:40 AM

That Wolf Parade stuff is interesting. I was prepared to dislike it after the first 30 seconds or so of the first song...it just sounded like some typical indie-rock cool-drone. But it does have something about it...it grew on me over the course of the two songs. I will look out for these guys.

Sean, your site now clicks over to a quick-time window when you click on a link, so you can't keep reading the post while you listen. It didn't used to do this--did something change? Is there a way to make it open up in a NEW browser window (like fluxblog does)?

Posted by Scott at April 20, 2004 11:45 AM

hey props for putting up the wolf parade, they are great and really nice guys to boot

Posted by slocki at April 20, 2004 11:45 AM

Wow. The Wolf Parade material is nothing short of phenomenal. I'm especially liking "This Heart Is On Fire," which I've been listening to non-stop for the past 20 minutes or so. It starts off somewhat hesitantly, with the high-pitched synth threatening to drown out the rest of the instruments, but by the time the song finishes the band has locked into an airtight pattern. It really is a deliciously anthemic rock stomp. And the singer sounds like Beck, which can't ever be an all-bad thing.

Posted by Paul at April 20, 2004 12:53 PM

Glad that Wolf Parade's getting some love: like I say, there's an -interesting- band, so it can take some effort to fully buy into what they're doing. There's a lot going on.

And Scott, I've not changed anything here. I can very easily start doing links in a new window, it's just a matter of an HTML tag.

Posted by Sean at April 20, 2004 5:38 PM

Must be my computer, then. Thanks, Sean.

Posted by Scott at April 20, 2004 8:30 PM

WOLF PARADE is the best god-damn band in Canada, hands down.

ATLAS STRATEGIC was awesome, too.

Posted by Jay Watts III at April 28, 2004 5:29 PM

Wolf Parade so far seem really cool, but Ive only had their cd for about 30 minutes so I cant say it all. But yeah, very very good show tonight with modest mouse, the lead singer has a peculiar way of rocking out, i thought he was on speed or something. Fucking leg twitcher. But he was cool and I LOVE LOVE The second singer/keyboardest....he has a cool voice - with this francis black yelp that he does except with faster lyrics than the pixies. He sounds really good.
Only one guitarist and I love it. They sounded real good.

Posted by Kate at August 2, 2004 2:39 AM

i just saw wolf parade last night opening for modest mouse and they kick ass. got a pretty good response from the crowd as far as warm-up bands go. i bought their cd... they are a really awesome show live, and fun guys it seems, creative. i also dig how their songs dont all sound the same. they have quite a good range of material.

Posted by dana at August 2, 2004 1:23 PM

can someone please let me know how to get some albums from these guys, i just saw them play with modest mouse and they blew me away, thanks.

Posted by josh at August 4, 2004 1:40 AM

does anyone know the tracklist for their recent ep? i know they have 2. 1 has artwork (yellow and black) the other doesn't. I would like the tracks of the one without artwork...


Posted by rob at August 4, 2004 8:23 AM

EP tracklisting

Posted by john at August 4, 2004 11:12 AM

How do I grab Wolf Parade's CD? Saw them open for Modest MOuse and thought they were great, really jammin!

Posted by Dave Graff at August 10, 2004 12:06 PM

I bought the new WP ep today @ Cheap Thrills on Metcalfe Street (north of St-Catherine, just past Maisonneuve)...10 dollars well spent.

If there is any justice in the world, Wolf Parade's first full-length LP is going to go platinum everywhere and anywhere.

The first song on the EP is intrinsically beautiful, like a leaf shaking after a morning rainfall. [pardon the pretentious prose] ;)

Posted by Jeremy Brendan at August 27, 2004 12:48 PM

Wolf Parade rule, i really want to see them live again now that i know all their songs by heart.

Posted by crumie at September 13, 2004 5:53 PM

Wolf parade is simply the best thing ever. I saw atlas strategic when they toured with ugly cassanova. they simply rocked my socks off. they projected a true sound and feeling of rock n roll. this dan guy has really got somthing goin for him. I love his stage presence. shocking, exciting, and not like over use with spasims and outbursts. but just right to make you fuckin dig. come to northern california again please.
rock n roll. hamm.

Posted by hamm at June 28, 2005 3:07 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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