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Music Review: The Albertans – Legends of Sam Marco

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If there’s one thing The Albertans have got down pat, it’s that cloud-like pop vibe that forms itself tenderly into diverse shapes right before the listener’s ears. There’s something absolutely magical about how this broad collection of travellers comes together to create music and Legends of Sam Marco, out now on Ernest Jenning Record Co., does a nice job of introducing the group.

The Albertans came together like a meeting of the masterminds. Songwriter Joel Bravo, a Milwaukee native, met bassist Ian Everall from the Canadian province of Alberta while playing in New York’s Bravo Silva. When that band ended, Bravo and Everall started up the wonderfully-named Sex with an Angel. The band featured a rotating cast of characters and, perhaps as luck would have it, the duo moved to Vancouver with new members and The Albertans were born.

Featuring Bravo on vocals/guitar, Everall on bass, Curtis McLean on drums, Alison Yip on percussion/vocals/keys, and Krystin Monaghan on percussion/vocals/keys, The Albertans produce nomadic, billowing pop music.

Legends of Sam Marco spills over with coated pop tracks that provide room for every piece of instrumentation and every single ounce of passion the band has to offer. The sound is never crowded or muddled, instead forming like dazzling paintings built with a spirit of pure exploration.

Bravo’s splendid efficacy as a frontman evolves largely from his sense for the theatrical. As “Marie” heads off the record in brave fashion, he half-speaks the opening lines while Monaghan and Yip fill in sublimely with background vocals.

“High Noon” features a bouncy, vigorous pace buoyed once again by the female backing vocals. The song’s slight march tempo matches Bravo’s plucking perfectly.

Another highlight is the brilliant “OK.” As one of the best pop songs I’ve heard all year thus far, it’s guided by Bravo’s broken and honest vocals. The effects and innovative tempo form together and are offset boldly by energetic, abrupt slices of guitar. Slightly hushed, Yip and Monaghan inform us that “I’m not the one you should be scared of.” It’s bloody great stuff.

Legends of Sam Marco is a delicate album of dream pop tunes. It is a surprising, peaceful, intellectual record from a small Vancouver-based outfit with a true sense of art and adventure. Travelling with these five companions through their avenues of love, disappointment and dreams is pure pleasure.

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