Kyross – EP

kyross EP

If you haven’t heard of Kyross, it’s for two understandable reasons: First, he’s 16, and second, this is his first EP. Still in high school, he’s been honing his production skills remixing. You can hear all that on Soundcloud. With … Continue reading

Brocken Spectre – Grand Kids EP

Followers of the Vancouver music scene will need to give this album its due this summer, because Brocken Spectre just levelled up. The release of Grand Kids EP is exactly what fans would want: right-on-target studio takes of songs they’ve heard live. The band calls its own offerings avant-pop; It’s Neapolitan in flavour: hopefully it’s the sort of freshness that will save us from the deeply adulterated indie-as-a-genre phase. Stripped down, it’s drum kit, guitar and bass, occasional robotic synths, and a stirring voice.

Either they arranged with Mario and Luigi for a shipment of golden mushrooms this year, or it could have something to do with more live performance experience; gains in confidence for the band reveal themselves in brave explorations of their musical territory. Colin Ablitt traverses the upper and lower (rock bottom) limits of his range, while Colin Campbell (drummer) teaches floor toms the greatness they were destined for.

Exploration is a word that could describe this album. The second EP produced by the band, it is mostly the translation of live songs into studio ones, and that’s pretty satisfying. Sonically it contains strong pieces; some parts are catchy as a fishhook.

All parts played by this four-piece from Burnaby/Coquitlam fuse together to produce the slightly dark oft-performed “Marionette King”, with Ablitt’s strong melody lines and Nic Campbell’s crisp guitar work that make the song stand out.

Opening song “Frost”, a fan favourite at shows, translates nicely into studio with the sense of the drums not being lost, the harmonies of the song resolving as usual from minor-keyed trisyllabics into a full-hearted rouser. “Steam Hands” jungle-drum opening glides unexpectedly into blissful alternative rock a la The Decembrists and reveals some strengths of the band.

Repulsed by redundancy, it’s an album of surprises. Sometimes the vocals have a folksy colour to them and sometimes they’re alt-pop. Spectre is good at locking into a groove and equally skilled at recreating it. Andrew Cleasby’s bass keeps the tracks anchored while Colin Campbell drums interesting and cleverly-placed rhythms.

It’s this final, somewhat-Fleet-Foxes-inspired “Corlioghost” that is most striking. Opening with its three-part harmonies and plodding synths, the track develops awestruck lyrics like: “I’ve been fascinating on you for some time now…lion, come and catch me”. It packs a punch in its diversity, changing and fading only after a drum, bass and guitar interlude that is a concert staple for the band.

“Anteros & I” is unexpected. This grungy piece explores the gravel floor of Ablitt’s vocals and drags a little, but the song upshifts gears and becomes incredibly enjoyable after he takes a turn for his more familiar upper reaches. Tight stick work from Campbell drives it forward; indeed, it contains some of the most memorable harmonies and rhythms on the whole album.

With the release of this EP, new material is to be expected from the band, and as mentioned in my last interview with them, a possible entry into Vancouver’s prestigious Peak Performance Project. In the meantime, enjoy the places Brocken Spectre has explored on this EP.

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Dear new TWU student

Dear new TWU student,

I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. But as a person who has travelled ahead of you on the journey you have begun, I wanted to write to wish you a happy O-day and welcome you to the campus I once affectionately called home. I hope you’ll find it life-giving.

If you like, give me just a moment of your time for a couple pointers.

First things first. Fruit. It’s highly overpriced at the cafeteria. Get it from Willowbrook Farm Market in Walnut Grove. Soup is cheap and sometimes worth the savings so you can stock up on ice cream at opportune times like November when it rains the whole time. But it’s actually way better to just keep exercising. The gym isn’t far compared to other university campuses, even in the rain.

If you sleep well on those sad excuses for mattresses, I admire you. Extra foam mats?

I’m gonna sound like a parent here. That’s because parents have lots of hindsight. In this situation, so do I. If you do your pre-readings for class you won’t look or feel lost; confidence is half the battle: how will you ever feel good about learning if you haven’t applied yourself to your end of the bargain? Finish some papers early and the benefits are amazing. You’re less stressed and you have more time for refining it into work you can be proud of. My roommate created a clever schedule of his papers and dispersed them throughout the semester, successfully avoiding any all-nighters. Every percent actually counts. I didn’t graduate with distinction, but knowing I could have was a bit of a sore spot on graduation day; a mistake I won’t make again if I take further education.

Lastly, don’t give into the tendency to take your environment for granted. Look around – life is beautiful. Don’t allow yourself to complain: you have the most freedom you’ve had in your life up until this point, hopefully you’re studying something you’re interested in, and you’re part of the world’s 2% most privileged demographic. Keep perspective!

Have a blast. I look forward to hearing some stories one day.

Recommended classes:

The beauty of TWU is its liberal arts approach. You get to take a smattering of great electives!

POLS 101 – Intro to Political Thinking (Cal Townsend)

SOC 101 – Intro to Sociology (Gordon Chutter)

RELS 102 – New Testament (“RELS 102 with Kent Clarke changed everything for me.” – Jonathan Gibson) Prepare to have your faith cross-examined by a professor who won’t let you take your beliefs lightly.

ENG ___ (Holly Nelson / Lynn Szabo). The entire English faculty are world-class. Plus, they teach you how to write well, which pays off in every other course you will ever take, and for the rest of your life.

RELS 465 – Christian Thinkers of the Western Tradition (Cal Townsend)

HIST 403 – Engendered History (Robynne Healey). All the history professors at TWU are outstanding. You will have your eyes opened to the world like never before.

BUSI 280, 342, 377 (recommended by Business Administration student Jeremy Cockrill) I (Craig) didn’t take business, but I really wish I had.

Brocken Spectre @ Converge Magazine Social

Brocken Spectre (Colin Ablitt, Nic Campbell, Colin Campbell, Scott Bjerkness) played our Converge Magazine social on Saturday, June 2, at the gorgeous Five Stones Church in New Westminster (exposed brick, hardwood floors, right on the river).

Playing an unfamiliar venue to a largely-unfamiliar crowd can be a big challenge. Being a social event with appetizers aplenty and drinks flowing, everyone is already pretty chatty. But halfway through their first song, “Parallel Dances“, something magical happened. A stillness was setting over the room; everyone was tuning in. A couple minutes later, and a big round of applause for a band that barely anyone in the room knew (yet).

Brocken Spectre will be playing a show with In Contra and Aida Saturday, June 16 at the Southside Community Church venue. Doors open at 6:39. Tickets are well-worth it at $10.