Mt Chimaera - Brasstronaut (LP, CD, download)
A few weeks after being introduced to Brasstronaut through a striking performance on Balcony TV, I'm really enjoying getting to know the debut album from this Vancouver-based sextet. Their publicity material makes comparisons with Grizzly Bear and Radiohead, but I find them more interesting and appealing than either...
As their name suggests, brass makes an important contribution to the sound, with sinuous flugelhorn and stabbing trumpet often taking tracks to another level. But that's only part of the story. With clarinet, glockenspiel and synthesiser in the mix alongside guitars and keyboards, it is the care and complexity of the overall arrangements which draws you in - and raises frequent smiles.
The album's title points to a consciousness of pulling disparate parts together - in mythology a chimaera was a fire-breathing combination of snake, lion and goat. The myth-makers managed to make it work, and so do Brasstronaut.
Is there a downside? The vocals are pleasant and effective rather than leaping out as amazing in their own right; and the lyrics feature some arresting individual lines ('...a crucified man can't be attached to anything else...') without really cohering into strong wholes.
But those are quibbles. They've got a fresh, interesting sound and the album works. Give it a go.
It's worth tracking down a vinyl copy for an arresting sleeve with an intricate design (I got mine from the States via eBay). It comes with a free download coupon, as, of course, all new vinyl albums should...