Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Album Review:
Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue

Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue

(Secret City Records; 2008)

Score: 86.4% [Gold Sounds]

(Also streaming "Faerie Dance" in our player)

Do you ever wonder what's in the drinking water up in Montreal? Lord knows I sure do, because here I am falling for yet another eclectic Indie-rock band from Montreal.

You probably wouldn't know just by looking at the cover, but Plants and Animals consists of only three people: Guitarist-vocalists Warren Spicer and Nic Basque, and drummer-vocalist Matthew Woodley. Yet listening to the album, and judging by the album's cover, you would be forgiven if you assumed this was yet another Canadian super-group, when a more accurate description might be an Elephant Six style collective of musicians. Many of the people hanging out on the album's cover are friends that helped in the making of the record. As a result, Parc Avenue is a warm, densely layered rcord, rich with vocal harmonies, dueling finger-picked guitars, gorgeous strings (with a little help from Arcade Fire/Belle Orchestre's Sarah Newfield), with a friendly, welcoming vibe. Listening to this album, I felt like I was a part of the group, not an outsider looking/listening in.

You would also be forgiven if you automatically assumed, based on their location, that Plants and Animals wrote the same style of epic, grandiose songs that we associate with other Montreal based bands like Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, and Islands. Sure, Plants and Animals do sound like those bands on occasion, but they sound like a lot of bands (more on that in a minute), and when they do recall their Canadian peers its usually in short bursts, very rarely attempting anything bombastic (and sounding more like Annuals than Arcade Fire when they do). The album is a mostly laid back affair, perfect for warm evenings with a few friends, watching the sun set over the lawn, cans of beer in the cooler, beards itching, Frisbees flying, good times.

In fact, you would also be forgiven for attempting to pigeonhole Plants and Animals at all. The list of bands I recall when listening to Parc Avenue's 11 tracks reads like an Indie-rock All-Star game: Neil Young, Built to Spill, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Annuals, Ryan Adams, Akron/Family, Angels of Light, Phish (or some equivalent jam band), Tom Petty, the Pink Floyd that made Atom Heart Mother, Grizzly Bear, Midlake, and then some, sometimes within one song. Its quite brilliant, really. They never quite rip off any particular artist completely or for very long, but every song is achingly familiar in the best possible way.

You might not be forgiven, however, if you let the little gem slip between the cracks. The year is short right now, but Parc Avenue is without question one of the best releases thus far.


The Moon said...

I really liked this album as well!

If you you end up craving a little bit more check out "with / avec" it's only a little 4 song EP/Single but still worth getting

Femme Fatale said...

Wow, I really dig this song you put on the player.

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