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Arts in Review

SoundBites (Death Cab for Cutie, Sonny and the Sunsets, Art Brut, k-os)

Quick takes on the latest releases from k-os, Death Cab for Cutie, Sonny & The Sunsets, and Art Brut.



Date Posted: June 21, 2011
Print Edition: June 10, 2011

Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys

Rolling Stone said of Death Cab for Cutie’s first album You Can Play These Songs with Chords that the album was “emotion through its lack of emotion.” Things haven’t changed much with their new album Codes and Keys; the band still has that same, classic Death Cab sound, they’re just better at it now. Ever since this band’s journey began in 1997, each album has been better than the last, and it’s nice to see their music mature with them. This newest album has less straight guitar playing, and they have incorporated more colourful instruments and sounds. Take for instance the title track “Codes and Keys,” with a banging piano that plays alongside the rhythm of the drums, and a cool building violin which layers over the vocals right to the end. If you’re looking for this album to be something other than Death Cab than you will be disappointed, but if you’re a fan this album is a must. 

– Joel Colbourne

Sonny and the Sunsets – Hit After Hit

“When I see you sun starts to shine,” sings front man and San Francisco native Sonny Smith on the opening track of the Sunsets’ latest record, quickly establishing the band’s particular variety of West Coast pop classicism indebted to Bobby Fuller, Buddy Holly, and Jonathon Richman in equal measure. On the band’s second LP, and Smith’s seventh since 2000, Sonny and the Sunsets exude a rare effortlessness that makes it seem like this collection has always existed and was just recently dusted off by a team of rock historians who stumbled across a forgotten milk crate of records in some northern California basement. As is often the case with prolific artists, Smith’s song writing is distilled and deceptively simple with tracks like “I Wanna Do It” and “Home and Exile” displaying a wealth of melodies you wish you had written. Ultimately, Hit After Hit is an incredibly fun if not particularly groundbreaking effort.

– Nick Ubels

Art Brut  – Brilliant! Tragic!

It’s fitting that Art Brut has released their fourth studio album, Brilliant! Tragic!, on May 23, right on the cusp of summer. I’ve always thought Art Brut was a great summer band; their first album, Bang Bang Rock & Roll is exactly as named, some bang bang rock n’ roll for sunny days and driving with the top down. B!T! doesn’t disappoint in the same category, with frontman Eddie Argos’ talk/shout vocals overtop an aural lashing of drums, bass, and guitar. The sound is upbeat and Argos’ lyrics remain tongue in cheek and worth paying attention to. Especially excellent is the rant on “Bad Comedian” in which he shouts his rage at an ex’s new flame, a bad comedian who “probably signs his name in Comic Sans.” Best songs: the aforementioned, plus “Lost Weekend,” “I am the Psychic,” and the slower, ballad-like “Sealand.” Pick up Brilliant! Tragic!, roll down the windows, and turn up the volume, because summer’s here.

– Sophie Isbister

k-os – The Anchorman Mixtape

Following the announcement that he would be retiring from making albums after his phenomenal Yes! Kevin Brereton, better known by his stage name K-OS, made it well-known that he was not out of the music game altogether. The proof was made whole with the late 2010 release of The Anchorman Mixtape. Now that there is news that October 2011 will see K-OS break his promise and release his fifth studio album, (BLack on Blond) the time seems right to revisit his mixtape, which features collaborations with big Canadian names like Drake, Saukrates and Sebastien Grainger, among others. The Anchorman in the name is indeed a reference to the Will Ferrell movie and clips from the film become the glue that holds the tapes together. The effect is marvelously funny and K-OS and co. are typically on point with rhymes and beats that are leagues above most others in modern hip-hop, Canadian or not. Overall The Anchorman Mixtapes are wicked awesome hidden gem and the perfect way to get ready for BLack on Blond

– Paul Falardeau

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