I don’t mean to sound unpatriotic, but lets face it folks, for the past decade the Canadians have proved that they are better than us fat bloated Yanks. They live in a society of universal healthcare, and while smoking pot may not be 100 percent legal there, it is not really enforced. And for the past century, Canada has provided a safe haven for those of us Americans who wish not to fight our nation’s bogus wars. Despite what fem-Führer Ann Coulter says, liberals do live better and happier lives. And no we do not have joyless sex like she also claims, although if she’s as physically feisty as she is mouthy, I’m sure a poke in the whiskers with her wouldn’t be so bad.
If I were to mention ten years ago that the Canucks had the music thing down, most people would have scratched their heads and said “Uh, Rush?” Not the case these days. From all over the great white north it seems as if a smorgasbord of delightfully innovative artists have been popping up from Metric, to the Arcade Fire, to the wonderfully messy Broken Social Scene. Now on Ones and Zeroes, the debut by Victoria, BC’s Immaculate Machine, frontwoman Kathryn Calder (of New Pornographers fame, and that of being A.C. Newman’s niece, as well), shows that’s she is not just a voice in Neko Case’s shadow. Ones and Zeros is delectable blend of harmonious precision and power pop that has a warm and chilly feeling all at once. No, not like BenGay.
“Broken Ship” is a like a good recanting of the earlier 10,000 Maniacs releases (when they sounded decent). The tingling organ pop of “No Such Thing as the Future” contains the lucid pummeling of drummer Luke Kozlowski. It all sets the mood right for bringing in the tone of “Fire in the Lobby” as Brooke Gallup lets out quasi-Frank Black type growls.
The “ahhs” on “Phone No.” are as hands-in-the-air inspiring as the ones on the New Pornographers’ “The Bleeding Heart Show” as Immaculate Machine here sound like they are made up of more than just the three members of the band. Calder may have done an exquisite job with the keys duties on Twin Cinema but it is still nice to hear Ones and Zeroes because it exhibits this semi-quirky slickness in the organ infusions, especially with “On/Off.” “So Cynical” incorporates some beautifully melting melodies while Calder’s sweet voice spearheads the icy balladry of “No Way Out.”
Even though I may be a Yankee by birth, Immaculate Machine makes me want to get a big red maple leaf tattoo as I pack up the Jerome Baker, burn my draft card and head north for a better life. Ones and Zeroes is the best, as well as the most crafty album, that has remained under the hype radar of the Canadian music scene in 2005.
The Mendoza Line – Full of Light and Full of Fire
Stars – Heart
Throwing Muses – The Real Ramona