If you ask hip indie bloggers what today’s power pop sounds like, you’ll likely get Army Navy as the response. Lead singer Justin Kennedy belts out the opening track of The Last Place, “Last Legs,” and is accompanied by catchy riffs and a solid beat as he states, “The the place I want to be is in my head…” Even better is the stellar “Ode to Janice Melt” where Kennedy talks about his affair with a married celebrity. The band’s sound is reminiscent of a mixture of Teenage Fanclub, Pulp and Belle & Sebastian with an easygoing bounce in each track’s rhythm. “The Long Goodbye” and “Ex-Electric” both share solid songwriting and musicianship.
Nothing makes you wish you could win the lottery, or unexpectedly come into money some other way, like one of your favourite bands reuniting for a show. One of the ones you thought you’d perhaps never get to see live, or never again if you’d already seen them.
There is certainly a benefit of a band reuniting without putting out a new (often disappointing) release. No questioning whether or not to go to the show, worried you’ll have to endure a bunch of shitty new songs in order to hear a few of your old favourites. In addition, there are the likes of Billy Corgan – expecting fans to be so devoted they won’t ask for the old songs that changed their lives, and reprimanding them when they do. It doesn’t seem like a fair approach somehow, even if the artist cringes at the angsty, earlier chapter of their career.
“Love”, “emotion” and “feeling” are words that can best sum up Jacques Labouchere’s new album, Bi-Polar Baby Strollers, which was released this past summer. Labouchere is a captivating artist who has had the chance to live in three different countries and each has in fact become synonymous with a specific stage in his life. The U.S. was a place of experimentation, the U.K. is where he rebelled and Sweden is where he has found peacefulness and happiness. His new album is a reflection of his life, which is now filled with happiness, thanks particularly to his baby daughter. As I write this review, I’m watching the official video for his track “2nd Long Street,” which is the perfect reflection of what his music is about: friends and family spending quality time together. The 10-track album is worth listening to as the rhythm, vocals and lyrics are all in harmony with one another.
Q: Your album is very well harmonized. For instance, “Dear Dr.” is a very instrumental piece with a solo piano playing, so when writing songs, which comes easier to you – composing the music or composing the lyrics?
A: Harmonized – Wow, thanks! That’s a first! Well, “Dear Dr.” is not really just a solo instrumental piece, if you listen closely in the background you will hear some synth sounds pinging and also, more audible, there is cello beginning from the start of the first chorus thorughout ’till the end of the song. The music or the melody usually comes to me first from built up emotions and are then qucikly released and followed by a lyrical rhythm of mumbled words ’till I feel where to place them naturally. The content of the lyrics takes form as I continue to play the melody over and over and over again, while concentrating on things that are on my mind and in my heart. Songwriting for me is, most of the time, not a lenghty process, nor do I like it to be. I feel like, if you spend too much time thinking about a song and its message, you tend to miss out on the feeling of the song and the honesty of its story. I think that most of the best songs I have written have been written in the course of a few hours. I think the most challenging part of songwriting is the arranging; where to put the bridge or chorus, where to repeat or not repeat your lyrics. All in all, songwriting is meditation to me and medication for my soul and body – it comes to me without thinking about composition. It’s not a thought process, but a mirror to my emotions in space and time.