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Octoberman - Fortresses

  by Paul Waller

published: 4 / 5 / 2010

Octoberman - Fortresses
Label: White Whale Records
Format: CD


Excellent slacker pop on third album from playful-sounding, but yet also thoughtful Vancouver-based indie rockers, Octoberman

In the early 90’s it would seem that with every year there would be a new slacker anthem, celebrating lack of success and making failure within the music industry a positive thing. Beck was most successful with 'Loser' although Smog had the fantastically ramshackle dirge 'A Hit' and even Pavement had the joyous escapism of 'Here'. Now Marc Morrissette and co (aka Octoberman) have now successfully joined this exclusive club, be it ten years too late, with their own stab at indie genius in the shape of 'The Backlash'. It has a great lyric involving Morrissette defending one of his favourite bands when they are always getting dissed on the net from critics and bloggers. “This is the backlash on your backlash,” he announces towards the song's finale. I can’t tell you how long it has been since I came across a song this good but it’s been years, rather than months. It’s fantastic stuff. The rest of the record can’t compete with this song (how could it) but it really bloody tries. Imagine if you can Modest Mouse during their 'Lonesome Crowded West' period but with every tune a killer and you sort of get the idea. The record as a whole is tightly played but the feel is ultra loose and laid back. 'Dancing With Yer Ghost' is the best example of this summery flavour and effortless cool breeze approach. At the other end of the scale 'I Was Wrong' is the most straight ahead song on the record, the band choosing a traditional Americana approach to the song structure, straying far from the lo-fi feel of Octoberman’s earlier records. Another high point for me is '51'. Here is a song in which Octoberman recalls the fictional invasion of his native Canada from those nasty Americans. After considering the vastness of the US army he concludes that he is "fucked" and at this point the song ends. The lyrics are playful yet there is an underlying sinister feel throughout. It’s a song that after many, many repeat listens I find to be compelling and rewarding every time. The record was recorded in two separate sessions at two separate studios but the album doesn’t come across as disjointed in any way. Without any exaggeration at all I can safely say that 'Fortresses' is my favourite album of the year so far and it will take one hell of a record to beat it. The band will be in the UK by the time you read this playing all over, Edinburgh to Maidstone. I for one can not wait to see them.

Track Listing:-
1 The Backlash
2 Dancing With Yer Ghost
3 Trapped In The New Scene
4 I Know A Nurse
5 Thirty Reasons
6 Temptation Is A Bloody Mess
7 I Was Wrong
8 51
9 Scenesters
10 Ceiling Floor
11 Another Trial
12 Portland Hotel

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