Tegan and Sara

If the last Tegan and Sara song you’ve heard was “Monday Monday Monday,” the electronic pop of Heartthrob might come as a bit of a shock. The shift has been foreshadowed in the recent years by “Someday,” the final track on Tegan and Sara’s last album, Sainthood, and perhaps more blatantly by their collaboration with Tiësto, “Feel It in My Bones.” Whether it works is up to the listener. The subject matter is the same as ever, and the hooks are as catchy as ever, so it really comes down to the presentation.

The buzz of the synthesizers on opening track and first single “Closer” is as good an introduction as any, and it sets the tone for what you’re going to hear for the next nine tracks. The album is not subtle. It’s called Heartthrob and it’s filled with heartbreak. Individually, the songs are fine, taken together, they can be difficult to distinguish. “I Was a Fool” manages to buck the trend, slowing it down and shifting the electronics to the background.

Heartthrob is Tegan and Sara’s pop album, that much is clear. I’m not normally one to rail on production, but Tegan and Sara songs usually do better when they’re less dressed up. It’s nowhere near as cold and synthetic as Metric’s last album, but the glossiness makes me yearn for something as raw as If It Was You’s “Living Room.” Heartthrob isn’t going to supplant So Jealous, The Con, or Sainthood in my collection. It’s an amusing shift in sound, but I’m not sure it’s for the better.

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— , February 7, 2013    Comments Off on Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob

With the short list announced coincidentally close to Canada Day, the Polaris Music Prize has been cleverly disguised as an icon of national pride. The saga of Polaris says that not only are we geographically gargantuan as a nation, but musically we’re in fine proportion to our size. It takes time to look at all the details, since we as a nation put out an obscene amount of music, but an award like Polaris gives us great cause to wear out our Canadian vinyl through the summer months. From the Besnard Lakes to Broken Social Scene and from Shad to the Sadies, the short list has once again rolled out a tight batch of competition spanning a wide array of genres. Splicing and comparing the ten albums selected for the short list this year can be a daunting task, so we at Ca Va Cool have decided to divide and conquer, to leave you more time to enjoy and celebrate not only the ten albums on the short list or the forty albums on the long list, but as many Canadian albums from the past year as you possibly can.

Broken Social Scene – All to All
Radio Radio – Tomtom
Shad – Rose Garden

Photograph by Chris Gergley

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar)

If there’s a dark horse in the Polaris race, it may just be the Besnard Lakes. The second-time shortlist nominees are once again looking to take home the big prize. An album blending shoegaze, progressive rock, and psychedelic rock, The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night harkens back to the 1970s, drawing comparisons to bands like Fleetwood Mac and the Alan Parsons Project. Husband-and-wife team  Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas trade vocals throughout.  Goreas takes centre stage on album highlight ’Albatross’, bursting through the droning guitars, singing of a heartfelt remembrance of an age long since passed. ‘And This Is What We Call Progress’ eschews that beauty, preferring a condemnation of the darkness of the surrounding world, soundtracked by a workman-like drumbeat and some of the sweetest guitar licks heard since the days of classic rock. Their world is on fire, and the Besnard Lakes channel that intensity into 10 tracks of Polaris-worthy goodness. — Kevin Kania

The Besnard Lakes – And This Is What We Call Progress

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— , July 31, 2010    8 Comments
Photograph by Yuula Benivolski

Photograph by Yuula Benivolski

The twenty albums included in our Best Albums of 2009 list can only cover so much of the music we’ve enjoyed, so to share some more of our favourites from the past year, we present the Ca Va Cool Mixtape for 2009, just in time to close off the year. As always, we thank you for reading and hope you stick around in the new decade. Happy new year.

Download | The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2009

01. A.C. Newman – Submarines of Stockholm
02. Yeasayer – Tightrope
03. Dog Day – Happiness
04. The Very Best  – Warm Heart of Africa feat. Ezra Koenig
05. Think About Life – Havin’ My Baby
06. Beirut – My Night With the Prostitute from Marseille
07. Tegan and Sara – Someday
08. The Thermals – Now We Can See
09. Timber Timbre – Demon Host
10. Engineers – Song for Andy
11. You Say Party! We Say Die! – Laura Palmer’s Prom
12. The Drums – Let’s Go Surfing
13. Fanfarlo – Luna
14. Julie Doiron – Nice to Come Home
15. Kurt Vile – Freeway
16. Freelance Whales – Ghosting
17. Japandroids – Young Hearts Spark Fire
18. The Raveonettes – Last Dance

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— , December 31, 2009    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
Photograph by Pamela Littky

Photograph by Pamela Littky

I got into Tegan and Sara fairly late, knowing them only for their songs ‘Monday Monday Monday’ and ‘Walking With a Ghost’, but never really delving deeper than that. That changed when I first heard The Con late last year. Since I began listening to that album entirely too often, I have anxiously awaited their next record. On October 27, that follow-up will arrive. Sainthood takes its name from a Leonard Cohen song and marks their sixth full-length album. Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla and Jason McGerr return as producer and drummer, respectively.

Sainthood didn’t make much of an impression on me upon first listen, at least until the closing track. With the prominent synth melody and hopeful gazing to the future, ‘Someday’ is basically a perfect Mates of State song. It sticks out on an album that for the most part is still classic Tegan and Sara. Subsequent listens reveal an album just as enjoyable as its predecessors. Sainthood shares much with The Con, but with a slightly harder edge and more focus on the electronic rather than the acoustic. Thematically, Sainthood is said to be about “obsession with romantic ideals.” Many songs come across as pleas from jilted lovers and laments of unrequited love. Lead single ‘Hell’ has garnered some criticism for sounding “too mainstream,” which in other words means ridiculously catchy. The main chorus line of “I know you feel it too” is so simple yet so memorable. It’s refreshing to have a song so driving and direct to get me out of my mopey dream pop funk.

Tegan and Sara – Someday
Tegan and Sara – Hell
Tegan and Sara – Arrow

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— , October 23, 2009    1 Comment