"I’m too sacred for the sinners/And the saints wish I would leave." - Mark Heard
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Review - The Choir - Flap Your Wings
This is an extremely uneven album. Half of it is trippy and buzzy and amazing. Then, per my imagination, the band found that they only had half an album done and a deadline of the upcoming Cornerstone festival looming so they raided Derri's unfinished solo album for songs and added a bit of Choir-ish-ness and ZOOOMBA, you have an album. Not that I don't like Derri's songs but it's obviously a mishmash. This could have been one amazing EP.
* * * * *
The Choir has long been one of my favorite bands. They write accessible, melodic rock songs, are stunning musicians, and always manage to have a sound that is truly alternative to the rest of the world. Flap Your Wings is their latest sonic landscape, a collection of solid songs played by musicians free to exercise their creativity. The title track almost sounds like the clouds opening up and a ray of light coming down with the listener taken up through the hole and beyond. The fuzzy, chaotic bass line is juxtaposed perfectly against the clean, ringing guitars that give a perfectly heady feeling to the listener. There is a bit of Radiohead to this song but as with all Choir influences, these are distilled to their essence and reworked to create fresh and original sounds. "Shiny Floor" buzzes nicely through the mind with Derri Daugherty's incomparable spacey wall of guitar textures that draws from such bands as The Church and early U2. As always, Steve Hindalong has created lyrics that conjure unique metaphors such as "I'll try to be agile like a Saskatoon lynx". The Choir always has managed to stride the fence with just the right amount of sentiment, humor, and seriousness. "I Don't Mean Any Harm" has an especially catchy melody and lyrics to which every married man can relate: "I called to tell you/ That I'm sorry to have such fun and leave you all alone / I'm gonna paint the hallway tomorrow / Say it won't be too late to atone." As a song that every father will feel, "Cherry Bomb" is an ode to small children who "spill grape juice on me" with Tim Chandler's trippy, slippery bass line that sounds like a lumbering, drunken elephant which incidentally only causes slightly less damage than a small child. The stunning "Sunny" shows the Choir at their most creative with a sultry, fuzzed out feel. Dan Michaels adds his smouldering sax to this song that sounds like it has the band bubbling up from the bottom of a very dark lake. Mixed in with this aural frenzy are a number of acoustic songs that are just as well written as the rest but seem a bit out of place and simplistic against the grandeur of the atmospheric, electrically charged, feedback-laden songs that dominate the album. A small achilles' heel, if you will. It's been a long wait since the last Choir album, but worth every painful second. If you can't find this album locally, go to www.thechoir.net.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, August 2000.