February 19, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 78  

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Raising the Fawn
The North Sea
Sonic Unyon

Lead singer John Crossingham has described The North Sea as a “moth-eaten sweater.”

The disc, with its stripped sound in combination with simple melodies, lives up to its name by conjuring images of the sea. Unfortunately, the paring of long intros and extended endings with occasional wailing sounds can seem washed out at times.

Crossingham’s voice is a duplicate of Coldplay’s Chris Martin at times, working both to his advantage and disadvantage. Lyrically, nature is a reoccurring theme serving to tie the songs together with lines such as “soft as surf against the shore.”

The best song is the title track, which begins with chords reminiscent of Bush before moving into more aggressive territory with a catchy guitar, bass and cymbal-based beat which, although drawn out, fails to be tiring. Another highlight is the backing female vocals on “The News,” which is reminiscent of The Corrs or The Rankin Family (in a good way).

Altogether, Raising the Fawn’s efforts are promising, and if they tighten up their sound, we’ll be hearing more from them in the future.

—Karolyne Ellacott

In All Things

What do you get when you combine the feisty Celtic fiddling of Ashley MacIsaac, the bubble gum pop melodies of The Corrs, some country à la Shania Twain, spectacular technical prowess and some good ol’ Canadian family wholesomeness? Leahy!

Lakefield, Ont.’s adorable group of siblings have just released their third and most musically expansive album. Starting with some classic East Coast style fiddlin’ tunes like “Chasing Rain” and “Little Ditty,” In All Things showcases the wide variety of talents this nine-sibling family has to offer. The strong opening song “Chasing Liberty” even includes a section of step-dancing, which Leahy is famous for at their concerts.

Unfortunately, some of the new styles they explore — including excessive usage of synthesized piano and weak vocal tracks — take away from an album that’s otherwise well-produced and fun to listen to. Instead of supporting the brilliant fiddling skills of Donnel Leahy, the endless chugging of the synthesizer is an annoying distraction. In addition, vocal tracks like “I Want You To Know” would be better off as purely instrumental.

It’s the instrumentals where Leahy really shines. The final track, “Gzowski Medley,” pays homage to Canadian cultural icon Peter Gzowski through a dramatic, classically influenced violin melody. This melodious masterpiece has potential to become the next “Farewell to Nova Scotia.” Aside from a few weak tracks, In All Things is a charming and fun album.

—Claire Neary

Phantom Planet
Phantom Planet

Say your band just finished touring Europe and the United States to promote a widely acclaimed power-pop album, and say the single off that album is now the theme song of a hit TV drama. What’s your next move?

Well, if you’re Phantom Planet, you ditch your shiny, sparkly hometown of Los Angeles and run off to a scrubby log cabin in the woods to record your follow-up album.

On their self-titled third album, Phantom Planet makes a concerted effort to break away from the glossy pop sound that characterized their last album, The Guest (which features the breezy, infectious “California” that plays during the opening credits of every episode of The O.C.), and morph into a full-fledged garage rock band.

The album becomes less melodically driven and shifts the emphasis to guitar riffs, with distortion-laced guitar lines framing the vocal lines. The lead guitar is backed up by thick layers of equally distorted supporting guitars strumming at breakneck speed; driving, pulsing bass lines and frantic drumming. The effect is an ostensible wall of sound that is dirty, messy and utterly satisfying.

—Mel Wong



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