September 1, 2012 Volume 26, Number 09
Double-time with Oh Village and Shad
Two new albums from Christian Canadian artists
By Aaron Epp | ChristianWeek Columnist
Abbotsford rock band Oh Village aren't afraid to experiment on their new album, Far Side of the Sea. Photo by Abbye Dahl
It takes a village to make an album. When Oh Village, a four-piece rock band from Abbotsford, B.C. needed money to record its new CD, the band decided to "crowdfund" the project, asking family, friends and fans to pre-order the disc and make donations via RocketHub.com.
The band raised $7,000 in 90 days and quickly entered The Sound Suite, a studio in Abbotsford. The result is Far Side of the Sea, a nine-track disc the band released at the beginning of August.
It's an intriguing album with a mature sound that belies the band members' youth. The quartetsinger/pianist Scott Currie, guitarist Jake Janzen, bassist David Dueckman and drummer Stephen Dahlrange in age from 17 to 19.
Fans of Coldplay and Radiohead will enjoy Far Side of the Sea. The song "Restart" in particular has an opening guitar line that is reminiscent of In Rainbows-era Radiohead. It's an enchanting, down-tempo tune with aural flourishes throughout that will tickle your ear and reward repeated listens.
"In This House" is another highlight, with Currie singing, "If I rise on the wings of the dawn / If I settle on the far side of the sea / If I stay in this house as the night goes on / Even there, your hand will guide me."
Take a look at some of the YouTube videos the band made while raising funds to make Far Side of the Sea and you'll agree it's not hard to like these four young men, all of whom attend Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford.
Listen to Far Side of the Sea and you'll be treated to the debut disc from a band that shows a lot of promise and isn't afraid to experiment.
* * *
It's been more than two years since Canadian hip-hop artist Shad released his critically acclaimed third album, TSOL, and while he has yet to put out a proper follow-up, he did release a mini EP for free download via his Bandcamp page in mid-July.
The excellently titled Melancholy and the Infinite Shadness packs five songs into 11 minutes. They're more like sketches than songs, really, giving Shad a chance to spit clever rhymes over fun samples from songs by Milli Vanilli, The Breeders, Lenny Kravitz, Prince and PM Dawn.
Born in Kenya, raised in London, Ontario and currently residing in Vancouver, the artist known to his mother as Shadrach Kabango won a Juno for TSOL and he has also been short-listed twice for the Polaris Music Prize, an annual honour that awards $30,000 to one Canadian musician based on artistic merit.
During a talk at St. Margaret's Anglican Church in Winnipeg last year, Shadwho is a Christian talked about the playful way he approaches music.
"Overall, [hip-hop's] a game," he said. "It's a game that's helped me enjoy myself, entertain myself, entertain others, discover who I am and to speak [about] who I am out loud."
Lines on Melancholy and the Infinite Shadness like, "It's not just Milli Vanilli / City to city, I'm Diddy samplin' Scritti Politti / Until I'm dizzy, Shad kizzywhattup" may seem nonsensical at first, but it's enjoyable to hear one of Canada's most gifted hip-hop artists stretch out and have some fun.
Shad's at the top of his game on Melancholy, and it only makes me look forward to his fourth album even more.
Aaron Epp is the managing editor of The Uniter, Winnipeg’s weekly urban journal
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