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Arts in Review

SoundBites (Sarah Slean, Adrienne Pierce, Shane Philip, Tryptych)

Capsule reviews of new releases from Sarah Slean, Adrienne Pierce, Shane Philip, and Tryptych.



Sarah Slean – Beauty Lives: B-Sides

Sarah Slean is a Canadian singer-songwriter based in Toronto. Stylistically, she embodies a fairly indie vibe – think Tori Amos with more shampoo. She’s released seven different albums, 6 of which were produced while she was completing a double major at UoT (just in case you were feeling productive lately). Her work centers heavily on her classical piano background, but it contains enough eclectic influences to keep it from being too band-geek. This album is unique in that it consists of what Slean calls “Orphans” – compositions that never made it to the recording stage. Songs were selected based on fan votes, and Slean recorded them in a three day period in mostly single takes. The result is an album of pure acoustic talent, showcased especially in “Everything by the Gallon” and “Sadie” (both being characteristic of her tone and style). Raw talent + Canadian artist = great buy, folks.

-Karen Aney

Adrienne Pierce – Oh Deer

Oh Deer, the third release from Vancouver singer, songwriter Adrienne Pierce, combines poppie beats with soulful lyrics and a voice as sweet as bubblegum milkshakes. Falling between Stars and Sarah Harmer on the spectrum of female Can-con alt-pop, Pierce arrives fierce on the Canadian indie music scene. Quality tracks include the upbeat and meandering “Let’s Pretend” and the dreamy “Nightswimming.” Starting off strong with the slide guitar infused track “Amargosa Hotel,” this album will find fans with people who appreciate mature lyricism combined with a simultaneously fresh and contemplative musical backdrop. Check out Adrienne Pierce if you’re a fan of indie chick rocks such as Kathleen Edwards and Metric. 

-Sophie Isbister

Shane Philip – life. love. music.

On his ambitious fourth studio album, life. love. music., Vancouver-based one-man band Shane Philip employs a diverse array of musical elements that include soaring lap steel, reggae rhythms, tribal drumming freak-outs, and howling didgeridoos. His style could be best described as a darker, heavier Xavier Rudd. While the record’s nuanced and eclectic sonic textures are often a pleasure to listen to, Philip’s song writing comes up short on a number of occasions, such as the trite opening lines to “Best Friends,” where he sings “You are my best friend / treasure the time we spend / exploring life.” It is unfortunate, as Philip is a tremendously talented musician with the potential to craft truly compelling music if only his lyrical imagination was as strong as his musical imagination.

-Nick Ubels

Tryptych – Demdike Stare

This three-part vinyl series amounts to 170 minutes of clanging heavy machinery and a stroll through an auditory haunted house. The supernatural musical mix of high pitched cathedral keys diluted with the low roll of a heavy bass amounts to one aural hangover. After the haze of ghost-like tremors pass by, the reverberated catastrophe of pot-heads and pans smashing together have one questioning whether to ride the headache or go trick or treating. The hypnotic annoyance of their “witch house” movement music is one part abstract contradiction of sound and one part shaking a box of broken glass and calling it artistic intervention. All in all, if an endless drone is what you seek, then this musical séance is a perfect way to keep the Halloween feel all year long. Don’t forget to wash the pentangles off the floorboards.

-Nicolle Hodges

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