utorak, 28. kolovoza 2012.

Patrick Watson - Adventures In Your Own Backyard

Kanadska hiperventilirana melankolija, riječi pucketaju u vatri, pijanističko-violinističke mačke smrznute u staklu prozora, leptirasti vokal nad šalicom kave, višeglasne sjene prebiru po klaviru, jutro je topla plahta koju podiže vjetrić... ljepota koje se ne moramo sramiti. 
Svemir je romantično grandiozan.

Release of the second instalment of our "Adventures in..." series, devoted to Brooklyn and featuring footage from an intimate band performance at Greenpoint's Manhattan Inn and a discussion between Patrick and his friend, the painter Rodney Dickson.
The video for “Adventures In Brooklyn,” off Adventures In Your Own Backyard (Domino), is a voyage into the Brooklyn of your hippest dreams. Patrick Watson’s piano cascades as the camera pans over abstract art, musty, restored buildings and small-scale acoustic concerts. It’s what your friend describes when he tells you, “You need to get up here, man—it’s where everything’s happening and the people are great.” It feels casually intimate yet romantically grandiose in the scope of its content. Watson’s gentle acoustic melody is the perfect accompaniment. This one’s more than eight minutes, so make sure you have some time.


Canadian band Patrick Watson, named after singer/songwriter and head of the band, has been making a strong name in the crowded, talented Montreal music scene since their surprise Polaris Prize win in 2007 for Close to Paradise. Watson’s brand of orchestral and melodically saturated music has drawn critical praise–and comparisons to Antony and the Johnsons and tour mate Andrew Bird–but for whatever reason, it hasn’t pushed them further into the indie-rock mainstream. With new album Adventures in Your Own Backyard, the songwriter makes a strong case for the band’s rightful place near the top.
Watson’s trademark is lush, melodic, and charming tunes that sound playful and larger than life; the songs on Adventures are no exception. Opening track “Lighthouse” starts with a quiet piano melody and the singer’s reverbed high tenor ever so lightly floating over the top like a mist on the grass. It evokes a still morning scene fit for a Bon Iver autumn. The music then explodes with marching snares, mariachi trumpets, and diving strings while Watson’s voice blends with the ringing cymbals and piano. The outdoor feeling switches to summer with mid-album highlight “Into Giants”, a bouncy, playful, nearly Simon and Garfunkel-esque tune. A backing choir is brought into the mix to give the track a fullness that will overcome you like a warm breeze.
The entire album has such a beautiful richness to it that it’s mind-boggling to discover that it was all recorded in the singer’s Montreal apartment – although you can hear the creaking of floorboards and chairs throughout, which only adds to the album’s charm and comfort. The title track starts with an door closing right as the rolling guitar arpeggio begins. It’s a simple touch that would drive some producers crazy, but it adds to the feel of the album. Nevertheless, Adventures in Your Own Backyard is jam-packed with instruments seemingly playing from an orchestral pit, each with their own movements and turns at the melody. A nice pair of headphones will bring you right to the bedroom floor. - Nick Freed

In 2007, Montreal’s Patrick Watson surprised many when his second full length, Close to Paradise, won the Polaris Music Prize beating the likes of Arcade Fire, Feist and Chad VanGaalen. Surprised probably isn’t the right word though. No, 'bewitched' is perhaps more suitable. Watson’s practically made his it trademark enchanting the aforementioned Paradise and his last album Wooden Arms with magical sounds not too dissimilar from Antony and the Johnsons, Grizzly Bear and Wainwright.
Here on his fourth LP, Adventures in Your Own Backyard, he’s opted to record in his small apartment, yet there’s nothing quite so miniscule about this record. As the name suggests, the album contains the same sense of whimsical escapism we’ve come to know him for and the sparse production no doubt helps in conjuring fantastical worlds with seemingly blurred but grand backdrops.
Opener ‘Lighthouse,’ for example, tip toes with delicately polished keys entering, the same minimal territory Antony Hegarty might call home. It then becomes MASSIVE, eventually ending with trumpets which sound suitable soundtracking the violence of the old West. Hegarty would probably tremble in his boots. Further on, the pitter-pattering bells of ‘Blackwind’ and the swaying ukulele of ‘Into Giants’ resembles post-Funeral Arcade Fire: its regal horns suggest what a Sgt Pepper's cover album by the Montrealers would sound like.
Unsurprisingly, themes of alluring escapism permeate throughout and Watson’s voice is still a dead ringer for Jeff Buckley’s. ‘Morning Sheets’ (deals with transporting yourself to a more blissful realm) is the most obvious platform for that here, combining the high drama of Buckley’s Grace with the majesty of a James Bond score. On the ethereal highlight track ‘Noisy Sunday,’ he turns all Bon Iver and expands all his barriers into the wider surroundings as he coos: “It’s too late in the night for a start / It’s quiet again / Too much for noise to go on.” On the album’s title track, which sounds like a hypnotised Zach Condon, he explores the primal side of his life as he sings: “12 steps into your backyard / Through tall green grass and into the wild.” The combination of these themes with the record’s already otherworldly personality is entrancing.
Some tracks don’t quite hit the same heights as others and the effect occasionally feels a little too timid. The prime examples here include the dusty acoustic sways of ‘Step Out for a While,’ the Andrew Bird type haze of ‘Quiet Crowd’, the Dusty Springfield-influenced ‘Swimming Pools’ and the ominous presence of the Olafur Arnalds-like ‘The Things You Do.’ All are decent enough but, when placed alongside the album’s standout moments, they aren’t quite as dazzling. Not like that really matters though, because there are standouts throughout. Watson has established himself further as a confident artist who manages to create subtly bewitching worlds which don’t take you too far from the moment. - Alex Yau

Something of a star in his Canadian homeland after winning the 2007 Polaris Prize – the country’s equivalent of the Mercury Prize – for his second album, Close to Paradise, and nearly repeating the feat two years later with his third, Wooden Arms, Montreal-based Patrick Watson makes a bid for similar acclaim in the UK with the release of his first for Domino Records.
Any failure to scale those heights will be our loss rather than his: Adventures in Your Own Backyard is a frankly exquisite, elegantly crafted gem. Slightly sparser than Wooden Arms, this fourth album overflows with sentiment without ever being sentimental, Watson’s delicate falsetto a distant, less flamboyant cousin of Jeff Buckley’s, his band’s arrangements ingenious but never overwrought.
His graceful touch is evident from the album’s opening seconds, where he strokes out the simplest of melodies from his piano before barely whispering the opening lines: "Leave a light on in the wild / ‘Cos I’m coming in a little blind." It’s as still as a misty lake at dawn, and equally as beautiful; but Watson is a man of many sides, and after three minutes so impalpable as to be hardly there, Lighthouse suddenly bursts into a mariachi-flavoured celebration, slow enough to be funereal and yet full of joy.
It’s this kind of bittersweet melancholy that he pursues masterfully throughout this set’s dozen songs, whether on Blackwind – distinguished by the lightest of strings and hints of pedal steel – or Quiet Crowd, a piano ballad that blossoms unexpectedly into the sweetest, if briefest, of sing-alongs, its flutes trilling playfully while chamber-pop violins swoon in the background.
Opening single, Into Giants, is more obviously upbeat, a shuffling slice of homey folk that fades out midway, only to emerge on the back of a triumphant trumpet fanfare, while Morning Sheets is a more dramatic, orchestral track that might even pass for an updated take on the ambitious pop Radiohead undertook on The Bends.
But it’s the subtlety of Watson’s approach – whether he’s serenading us with the sweet comfort of Words in the Fire or offering a Broadway pastiche in a style familiar to fans of Rufus Wainwright – that makes this such a special record. Others this year will be brasher, more immediate, and maybe more innovative, but few will be lovelier, more rewarding or, indeed, better. - Wyndham Wallace

The career of Montreal multi-instrumentalist Patrick Watson has endured its share of ups and downs. On the upside, his sophomore album, 2006’s Close to Paradise, won the inaugural Polaris Prize, which surprised quite a few Canadian music industry observers, and placed him and his band in the same lauded plateau as future winners Fucked Up, Owen Pallett (as Final Fantasy) and Arcade Fire. There have been setbacks, too, though. The follow-up album, 2009’s Wooden Arms, memorably got hammered in at least one quarter: Pitchfork’s Eric Harvey assigned the album a woeful 3.3 rating (which, in this humble critic’s opinion, was a bit harsh; it’s actually a pretty good album, in my estimation, full of a few memorable and hummable songs) and kind of took the artist to task for writing and including a song on the album called “Where the Wild Things Are”, which had been sent to Spike Jonze, who was at the time adapting a film on the famous bedside children’s book, on a bit of a lark. That review is worth mentioning because, based on the opening of Patrick Watson’s fourth long-player, Adventures in Your Own Backyard, which was recorded in Watson’s apartment, it sounds as though the artist is smarting and sulking as a result of that particularly overbearing piece of criticism.
The opening song, “Lighthouse”, is sullen and depressive with Watson’s vocals earnestly rubbing against a piano with the damper pedal pushed right to the floor. You listen to it, and wonder if Watson needs some Prozac. It isn’t until the final moments of the song that it blossoms into something pulled out of Western movie, full of panoramic wonder. “Blackwind”, which follows, is a little more smug, with plucked violins and a jangly mandolin, but there’s still a permeating feeling of blackness to the proceedings. Perhaps this might be reading too much into things, but it’s as though Watson is reacting to this one particular piece of criticism by withdrawing completely into himself. And why not? Getting a diss from the music website that is the de facto tastemaker for all things indie has got to sting.
In any respect, given Adventures in Your Own Backyard’s homespun nature, there’s a bit of low fidelity to this particular disc—which is striking considering that its Watson’s first album for noted UK indie label Domino Records. You can clearly hear tape hiss on a number of tracks, particularly on the openings of “Lighthouse” and “Step Out for a While”, which gives the recording a bit of a sparse, intimate quality. I’ve seen one review online of the album that alludes to a voyeuristic nature of the record, and that would be an accurate assessment: with Adventures in Your Own Backyard, it feels as though we’re looking into and peering down on Watson’s very own backyard (or, at least, living room space). In that sense, the album could be said to be Watson’s stab at increasing his own authenticity, a trait that he wasn’t exactly lacking in on previous releases. Put another way, you wonder if the record is an attempt to take his detractors to task and prove his mettle at creating lush, wondrous soundscapes, that he wants to be taken seriously—or even more seriously, considering the big Polaris win—by retreating into a gauzy sound that is often lauded and praised by critics for having more feeling and heart. Despite this, though, gone is the feeling of wistfulness found on Close to Paradise and some of the clang of the percussiveness of Wooden Arms, and its replacement is a deep, dark hole that peers down into the psyche.
If Adventures in Your Own Backyard has any specific weakness, it’s that there’s nothing on the album that is instantly and as undeniably catchy here as “Luscious Life” from Close to Paradise or even “Beijing” from Wooden Arms—the songs all congeal into a massive whole without offering anything in way of the shape or form of a standout track. And the record is a bit of a woeful dose of melancholia, without much in the way of the hopeful sound that is offered on previous albums. In fact, in some respects, one can say that Adventures in Your Own Backyard isn’t so much a departure of the Patrick Watson sound than a further piece of marinade in some of the bleaker moments of his cabaret style of indie pop. After four albums of essentially the same sound, with subtle variations, the formula is starting to wear a bit thin. I’m not sure which direction Watson would have to point himself and his band in to rectify this (maybe make a techno album?): it’s just that there’s a permeating feeling that if you’ve heard one Patrick Watson album, you have heard them all, even if Adventures in Your Own Backyard offers some subtleties and a slight change in approach and forebodingness.
Still, it is enjoyable on its own terms, and the expectation of knowing pretty much what you’re going to get with a Patrick Watson long player does offer its charms. And the album does work as a coherent whole, with a consistent sonic approach. In other words, Adventures in Your Own Backyard is hardly going to disappoint long-time fans, and may even rightfully earn Patrick Watson some new ones. The record is hardly going to light the world afire with anything remotely adventurous, to cop from the album title, but it is a pretty rigid and solid affair that is worth checking out if you’ve already liked what you’ve heard from the artist, and is an agreeable starting point for those new to the gemlike quality of Patrick Watson’s muse—critics be damned. Adventures in Your Own Backyard may see its creator sucking on a gigantic lemon, but it’s still kind of beautiful to hear anyway.- Zachary Houle

Watsonova web stranica

Nema komentara:

Objavi komentar