Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Krug Dishes On New Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade

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Juggling follow-ups for critically acclaimed bands doesn't seem to be a problem for Canadian indie rock artist Spencer Krug. First up is Sunset Rubdown's third release, "Random Spirit Lover," due Oct. 2 as the first in a new deal with Jagjaguwar.

"I would say that the structures of songs in Sunset Rubdown are getting quite elaborate, whereas before we might have curbed or restricted that impulse," Krug tells Billboard.com. "I think we consciously were trying to get a cleaner, more direct, to-the-point kind of sound, with every note having a specific purpose. No filler. But old habits die hard and I know that throughout the record there are moments of absolute clusterf*ck."

Of the recording process, Krug says that each song was recorded in the order that it appears on the album, as well as finished, before moving to the next. "Each song was treated as its own piece of art and worked on carefully, considerately, in attempt to let it reach it's full potential," Krug says. "Doing it one track at a time, in order, allowed us to watch the record unfold as we recorded it, and record each song in accordance with how it would compliment the one that came before it, and what was coming next."

"I liked working this way more than doing a pile of bed tracks, then going back and doing overdubs on everything, then going back again to do vocals all at one go," he adds. "I think that way of working treats the songs with less respect, as cheesy as that sounds, and can lead to flat albums, texturally, or some kind of aesthetic monotony."

Compared to his full-time work with Wolf Parade, Krug describes the Sunset Rubdown experience as "slower" and "purposefully thought out. Sunset Rubdown is more of an emotional exercise," he explains. "[It's] the band that I use to get sh*t off my chest, and more of a cerebral thing too, musically, where I allow myself to indulge in nerdy tendencies like long structures, and two or three part harmonies, guitar solos, etc."

Wolf Parade is in the midst of recording the follow-up to 2005's "Apologies to the Queen Mary," which debuted at No. 6 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. Although no title or track listing is ready, Krug says that there is "an album's worth of songs."

"So far, I like it better than the last one. It feels more honest, more natural, less self-involved," Krug says. "We're realizing that what we do well together is play rock music. Catchy stuff. And so on this record we're letting that blossom instead of fighting it."

Krug also says that it's "more collaborative" than "Apologies," contains "less distorted synthesizers" and "a few moments you might think of Stevie Wonder."

Wolf Parade will kick off a month-long tour Aug. 11 in Kingston, Canada, while Sunset Rubdown is slated for an October outing, starting at Boston's Middle East Club on Oct. 7.

From Filter:
Track Listing:

1. "The Mending of the Gown" [5:37] <- Key Track
2. "Magic vs. Midas" [6:00] <- Key Track
3. "Up on Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days (Rip)" [4:48]
4. "The Courtesan Has Sung" [4:32] <- Key Track
5. "Winged/Wicked Things" [4:47] <- Key Track
6. "Colt Stands Up, Grows Horns" [4:55]
7. "Stallion" [6:46]
8. "For the Pier (and Dead Shimmering)" [5:15]
9. "The Taming of the Hands That Came Back to Life" [6:07]
10. "Setting vs. Rising" [2:24]
11. "Trumpet, Trumpet, Toot! Toot!" [5:22]
12. "Child-Heart Losers" [2:01]

First Impressions:

* In Sunset Rubdown's most recent outing, one can imagine Wolf Parade's Spencer Krug grabbing a lyre and leading a fanciful, um, parade of children down to the waterside to drink fairy dust and liquid gumdrops. Even more fleshed out and fully-realized than 2006's stellar sophomore album Shut Up I Am Dreaming, the four-piece has hit their stride with this almost hour-long collection of otherworldly, spirited tales.

* Lyrically, an aura of adult fairytale seems to guise otherwise depressing and eluding issues, such as the confusion of physical contact being related to Midas' golden touch ("Magic versus Midas") and sonnets of yearning sung to a sailor's jig ("Up on Your Leopard, Upon the End of your Feral Days"). Krug has continued in his tradition of metaphorical writing with meanings left open to interpretation.

* Song titles like "The Mending of the Gown" and "The Courtesan Has Sung" are early indicatations of the allegorical nature of the album, and the paced-out cadence of the more climactic choruses ensures the tales are well punctuated with the big moral ta-da saved for the end.

* Providing a nice alternative to Wolf Parade's jangly staccato voices leading to single volleys of calculated mantras, Sunset Rubdown uses their characteristically different palate of sounds and styles to instead craft elegant stories around this epic spirit lover. Backing vocals from Camilla Wynn Ingr once again pleasantly complement Krug's yelps and mutterings, especially notable on ending lullaby track "Child-Heart Losers."

* Those expecting track-jumping and A.D.D. iPod-shuffling may find themselves lost, but following the album as a whole leads listeners through a magical journey of final-scenes-from-Edward Scissorhands-redemptive-weightlessness ("The Courtesan Has Sung") to is-Vincent Price-going-to-provide-spoken-word-overlay? trickling ("Colt Stands Up, Grows Home") that is altogether worthy of the name Sunset Rubdown.

* Final Impression: Pure magic


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