Photograph by Nick Helderman

As a fan of one-person music projects and guitars layered with lyrics of love, Montreal-based Miracle Fortress dovetailed perfectly into my music collection. The summer of 2007 was bathed in the melodies of Five Roses, a beautifully dense album which made it on our list of top 20 Canadian albums from the aughts. When Van Pelt returned to Toronto in March for Canadian Music Week, the difference was striking. Accompanied by a drummer and effect lighting, he provided a danceable live preview of Was I the Wave?, his second full-length, released on April 26 by Secret City Records. I recently spoke with Graham over a static-ridden Skype connection about his new album and old influences.

Miracle Fortress – Raw Spectacle
Miracle Fortress – Maybe Lately

Sabrina: It’s exciting that you have some new material coming out; we haven’t heard from Miracle Fortress in a couple of years. In the hiatus, you have been doing a lot of touring and recording with Think About Life. What’s the future looking like for that band?

Graham Van Pelt: We’ve been working on a new record; we’re in the recording phase now, just getting some songs mixed. The group has been writing pretty steadily for a couple of years since Family.

Sabrina: I read that you deliberately avoided any influence of music from after 1980 while recording Five Roses. Immediately upon listening to Was I the Wave? it seems like you have turned full circle on that quest.

Graham: Wouldn’t a full circle mean that I’m still the same?

Sabrina: This is true. I guess I should say a semi-circle. Do you feel like it was an active decision to change your approach?

Graham: It definitely was not an active choice to focus on any particular era. I started adding different elements and sounds into the music, especially drums and drum patterns. It ended up leading things into new territories. But there wasn’t any real premeditation about where I wanted to arrive. It’s always a goal of mine to explore something else every time I work on a piece of music. I just keep myself occupied by finding new challenges and combinations. A lot of it is just experimenting: setting up a bunch of gear up and not really knowing what you’re going to do. Let the experiment progress, and in the end if there’s a germ for a song then you’re pretty lucky. I take it from there.

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— , May 14, 2011    1 Comment
Photograph by May Truong

Photograph by May Truong

As the decade comes to a close and music magazines and blogs publish their “Best Albums of the Decade” lists, we here at Ca Va Cool decided to take a different direction. Sure, we could tell you that Kid A or Is This It is the greatest album of the last ten years, but you’ve already heard that. Instead, we’ve decided to make a list of something we hold very close to our hearts, Canadian music. By counting down the 20 best albums of the decade, we hope to pay respect to truly classic albums and shine a light on some underappreciated gems which can be enjoyed no matter where you come from. From regional hits to international sensations, our list showcases the best albums that music scenes all over Canada, from Vancouver to the Maritimes, have released this past decade. Here, in all its glory, is Ca Va Cool’s Best Canadian Albums of the 2000s.

Photograph by Chris Smith

Photograph by Chris Smith

20. Joel Plaskett EmergencyTruthfully Truthfully (MapleMusic, 2003)

When thinking of the greatest Canadian music genres/scenes of this past decade, it’s seemingly impossible to forget the influence of East Coast pop music. We begin our list with Nova Scotia’s best indie musical export, Joel Plaskett. Carrying the torch from ’90s legends Sloan, Joel Plaskett maintained the chugging electric guitar of 70’s power pop, incorporating the lyrical romanticism of his father’s folk idols, all from his hometown Halifax. On the Emergency’s second album, Truthfully Truthfully, Plaskett’s showcases the best of his charmingly witty lyrics and hook-ridden guitar work. As lovably awkward as Jonathan Richman, Plaskett nonetheless seemed as comfortable rocking out as Angus Young. Following the release, Joel Plaskett became a household name to Canadian music fans. He has been nominated twice for the Polaris Music Prize for his later work, produced countless albums for young East Coast bands, including the wonderful Little Jabs by Two Hours Traffic, and he still lives in Nova Scotia. — Daniel Hernandez

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— , December 7, 2009    7 Comments

Jens Lekman

Miracle Fortress -     Five Roses
#5

Miracle Fortress
Five Roses

Montreal, Canada
Secret City / Rough Trade

Based out of Montreal, Graham Van Pelt has created the closest thing anyone has come to a Beach Boys record of the new millenium. Mixing layers upon layers of guitars with catchy melodies, the similarities never end as he even has a voice similar to Brian Wilson. But there’s nothing unoriginal about it, because he picked one of the hardest pop artists of the 20th century to copy, so coming close is a pretty great feat. On top of that, he’s not trying to top the Beatles, so he did it all without having a nervous breakdown.

The     Clientele - God Save The Clientele
#4

The Clientele
God Save The Clientele

London, England
Merge / The Track and Field Organization

The Clientele’s first full-length release Suburban Light (a compilation of singles and compilation tracks) is perfect. Released in 2000, any unknowing listener would have to assume that it was recorded in 1966. That being said, their first two albums were unsuccessful attempts to re-create the soft, romantic mood of the earliest work. Not to say they were bad, they just showed no growth from a creative band with much potential. Their last release, God Save the Clientele, has the band expanding their sound, which has something to do with the addition of Mel Draisey on keyboards and strings, giving the band a much fuller, less subdued sound which dominated prior releases.

Lucky Soul - The     Great Unwanted
#3

Lucky Soul
The Great Unwanted

Greenwich, England
Ruffa Lane

The Pipettes are good, but Lucky Soul are great. Where the former had great singles and an album which didn’t quite live up to them, Lucky Soul have created one of the most consistently enjoyable albums of the year. Like the Pipettes, Lucky Soul rock the 60s girl group sound familiar to fans of the Shangri-Las and Lesley Gore. Just like those songs from days passed, although the songs have upbeat drums, strings, and horns, they are all tales of lost love and heartbreak, everyone’s favourite topics.

The Tough     Alliance - A New Chance
#2

The Tough Alliance
A New Chance

Gothenburg, Sweden
Sincerely Yours / Summer Lovers

Sweden is taking over the pop world. I like almost everything I hear from Sweden, and one of the best examples is The Tough Alliance’s new album A New Chance. It’s definitely a retro-sounding album that takes its cues from 80s new wave and 90s dance, but don’t let that fool you, because this album is unlike much you’ve heard.

Jens     Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
#1

Jens Lekman
Night Falls Over Kortedala

Gothenburg, Sweden
Secretly Canadian / Service

Oh Jens. His songs are great, and although all of the albums are dubbed “collections of recordings” spanning several years, all of the songs on his newest release Night Falls Over Kortedala play perfectly as an album. His charming wit and somewhat bizarre/cute romanticism find a home among consistently perfect melodies and lush arrangements. This album is Tigermilk good.

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— , January 17, 2008    4 Comments

The first ever Ca Va Cool mix includes some highlights from the writers’ favourite albums, EPs, and singles of 2007. Pretty representative of what was important this year in indie pop, rock, and dance (indie being a sound, attitude, and aesthetic, rather than commercial means). This was a team effort, and you know what they say about herd mentality: it’s never wrong.

01. Spoon – The Underdog
02. Shout Out Louds – Tonight I Have to Leave It
03. Tokyo Police Club – Box
04. The Teenagers – Homecoming
05. The Shins – Australia
06. Radiohead – House of Cards
07. Basia Bulat – I Was a Daughter
08. M.I.A. – Paper Planes
09. The New Pornographers – My Right Versus Yours
10. Panda Bear – Comfy in Nautica
11. The National – Slow Show
12. Miracle Fortress – Maybe Lately
13. Two Hours Traffic – Stuck for the Summer
14. LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
15. Jens Lekman – The Opposite of Hallelujah
16. Handsome Furs – Handsome Furs Hate This City
17. Feist – Past in Present
18. Justice – D.A.N.C.E.
19. Stars – Window Bird
20. The Cribs – Moving Pictures
21. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Satan Said Dance
22. Black Kids – I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You
23. Band of Horses – Is There a Ghost
24. Arcade Fire – The Well and the Lighthouse
25. Au Revoir Simone – Sad Song

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— , December 25, 2007    4 Comments