Best albums of 2017: #5 Wolf Parade “Cry cry cry”

I’m not sure what my problem was when I first heard that Wolf Parade was releasing its fourth long player “Cry cry cry” this year. I’m still quite confounded that I didn’t pre-order it. In fact, for some reason, I even duly forgot about its imminent arrival until almost a few days beforehand. Then, on release day, a couple of months ago, I noted its arrival with something akin to surprise on Spotify and decided to give it a spin. From the opening notes, I was remembering why they are so great and by the end of the second song, I was doing what I should have done from the beginning and was ordering a physical copy for my vinyl collection.

Perhaps it was some mental disconnect, some lingering effects from the concussion I sustained earlier in the year, but in all reality, I should’ve been much more excited about this album’s arrival. I’ve been a fan since the Montreal-based, post-punk influenced four piece burst onto the scene with their blistering debut, “Apologies to the Queen Mary”, back in 2005 and followed them through two more albums and up to their hiatus in 2011. I was ecstatic when I heard that they were reuniting for a tour in 2016 because I finally got to see them live, catching their incredible headline set at the River stage at last year’s Ottawa Bluesfest with my friend Jean-Pierre.

“Cry cry cry” is Wolf Parade’s fourth album but their first in seven years, yet it plays like almost no time has passed at all. Indeed, it feels the hiatus froze them in time, bottling their energy to recharge them until they were bursting at the seams. Not that its members were idle at all, far from it. You can clearly hear that Dan Boeckner brought his experiences from working with Handsome Furs and Divine Fits and mixed them in a big salad bowl with the sounds Spencer Krug conjured during his time with Sunset Rubdown and Swan Lake, all the while channelling the energy on Wolf Parade’s debut. Yes, Boeckner and Krug are still sharing the songwriting and vocal duties and this synergy works finer than ever, the jittery, frenzied rock exploding from the clash of supremacy that’s pitting synths against guitars. And in this case, we all win.

I now want to see them live again just to see how they perform these tracks because the fire burns just as bright here as anything on “Queen Mary” but don’t take my word for it. Check out “Cry cry cry” for yourself and you can start with my three picks for you below.

”Lazarus online”: The opening number is Spencer Krug and you can almost picture him at the piano, like a cross between Jerry Lee Lewis and a mad scientist, eyes closed, laying down the heavy-handed dirge of keys that back the synth enhanced track. A haunting, mystical mandala in a digital world.

”Baby blue”: This is another Krug-led track but this one is decidedly more upbeat than the opener, almost to the point where you could almost see yourself club dancing to it. The drumming is peppier and the guitars and synths build themselves into such a frenzy that at six minutes the track still seems too short.

”You’re dreaming”: My last pick is a Dan Boeckner track and while Krug’s keys feel very present, the guitars are more pronounced than on my other two picks. Of course, it’s a rocker, raw and in your face, and oh so awesome. Can be replayed infinitely without showing any rust at all.

For the rest of the albums in this list, check out my Best Albums page here.


Best tunes of 2010: #16 Wolf Parade “Palm road”

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Wolf Parade is a Canadian indie rock quartet that formed in Montreal in 2003 from musicians that were all from around the Vancouver area. They are kind of like a supergroup in reverse. All four members have always been highly involved and visible in the Canadian indie music scene, but most of their activities occurred after Wolf Parade’s formation. Spencer Krug, who started the band initially, has also fronted the bands Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, and Moonface, while Dan Boeckner, his musical partner in crime, has been involved with a number of other groups, including Handsome Furs, Divine Fits (with Britt Daniels of Spoon), and most recently, Operators. Second guitarist, Dante DeCaro was a founding member of Hot Hot Heat and has another project called Johnny and the Moon and drummer Arlen Thompson has done production and session work with a host of fellow Canadian bands, including Boeckner’s Handsome Furs and Arcade Fire. Yeah, I’m out of breath just typing all that.

I got into this talented bunch of guys upon the release of their brilliant debut album, “Apologies to the queen mary”, in 2005. Their jittery, frenetic blend of power pop and post-punk drew me in right away, each song a revelation wrapped in a riddle, with Boeckner and Krug tag-teaming the mike like it had offended them in some way. Their second and third albums were unleashed with just as much thunder and then, in 2011… they dissolved. Each member returning to or starting up the aforementioned projects as if Wolf Parade was only ever meant to be just one of their passing fancies.

Fast forward to the early days of 2016 and there were rumblings from their website that appeared to be more than just empty winds. An new EP followed in the spring, as did a triumphant resurrection tour (one stop of which I happily caught), and now, there’s a brand new full-length due out this coming Friday.  But back to the matter at hand.

“Palm road” is the second track that appears on “Expo 86”, Wolf Parade’s third album and the last to be released before the hiatus. It’s a Dan Boeckner track. Driving guitars mixed with Krug’s wonky, extraterrestrial synths, Thompson’s punishing drums and Boeckner’s vocals like an unpolished Springsteen, all rough and tumble after a night of playing for drinks at a dive bar, whose stage is more broken glass than wood. It’s raw and fist pumping and a crowd of like-minded fans shouting along at the chorus line as loud as their lungs will allow. Yes indeed.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2010 list, click here.