The Prophets pick pop
Last of the Big Game Hunters
Last of the Big Game Hunters, the Barstool Prophets latest album, is fairly similar to their first LP Crank. This Ottawa based quartet plays pure pop gems, with playful rhythms and interesting lyrics.
With the new song "Vigilante," they show a scarier side, singing "I am the hand of Justice, with fingers poised to test/ I am bigger, badder, better bane than Bernard Goetz/ You shouldn't have mess with me/ Now I'm a trigger happy, would be vigilante..." Is this the Prophets trying to show a more aggressive side?
Well, nonetheless, the track actually works well and blends with the tapestry of the album. In fact, the whole album tends to weave images of being the hunter and the hunted, as well as being tangled up in nets and suckered into traps. On the jazzy/blues track "All Tangled Up," Morier plays some beautiful lead rhythms and it acts as a nice counter point to Greer's personal lyrics.
The band as a unit plays great together. The rhythm section of Glenn Forrester (bass) and Bobby Tamas (drums) work well with each other, while lead guitarist Al Morier plays some interesting and tasteful solos on the album. Together with vocalist/rhythm guitarist Graham Greer, they produce some great tunes. It's the moments of peaceful strumming, that are mixed with energetic drum and bass, that really give the album a lift.
The Barstool Prophets have matured as musicians and do add some nice touches that were absent from their last album. Last of the Big Game Hunters, as a whole, is a more cohesive and much more enjoyable listening experience comparitively. A fine album for pop music lovers.
Deep Dark Sea
Celtic music with a new-age twist is on the rise with such leaders as Ashley McIsaac and Great Big Sea. Oysterband carries the same influences with the chilling violin common to the Celtic theme. This U.K.-based band has a defining light-weight feel which is a break from the brit-pop sounds of Pulp, Blur and Oasis. Its arrangement has a similar vocal tone and musical sound to that of Spirit of the West.
There are many similarities between the tracks that could have been overcome with more powerful, confessional lyrics. Instead there is no real pull or excitement to them. As Oysterband dives deeper into its "Deep Dark Ocean" the band hits the rocks. The U.K. quintet comes up with shallow, washed-out themes and lyrics. "First he's happy like a puppy, then he's hurting like an ox." The band's poetic attempts splash around some sort of meaning of love and family but in the end are drowned at sea.
Instead of trying to rhyme heart with start, Oysterband needs to focus on what it is it wants to say instead of how it is going to say it. In doing so, it needs to draw inspiration from other fellow U.K. artists, such as Radiohead. This is a band whose writers dive deep into their souls and respond with emotion.
Oysterband's weak attempt to be deep and meaningful is apparent throughout the album. The consistency to the same sound is overwhelming. Unless the band finds a more profound expression, its mediocrity will wash them away.