Cleverly written lyrics and ambitious sound are on offer from The Liptonians new album.
Out of the creative chaos and cross-pollination of the Winnipeg music scene, this new album appears. The Liptonians is a young band founded by and centred around Bucky Driedger (vocals, guitar) and Matt Schellenberg (vocals, keys). A re-vamped line-up emerged over the course of the development of their second full-length record, "Let's All March Back Into The Sea". Currently rounding out The Liptonians are Michael Jordan (drums), Mitch Braun (guitar, organ, autoharp), and Levi Penner (bass).
The album starts off with a 46 second piece called "Terrell's Dream", a tribute to the drummer who left the band to join another before the recording of this album. The prelude is discordant and confusing enough to make you wonder what is to come, but then flows nicely into "You Know I Did" (listen below), a song which utilizes every musical instrument in the catalogue of the album and vocals reminiscent of Beck. There's a liberal scattering of "ooh ah" choruses for ease of singing along, but there’s also some thoughtful reflections, such as "the misunderstood forgetful dreamers, a bouquet of puzzle pieces that don't fit in."
Occasionally, the music fans are treated to a glimpse into the creative process by way of a song. Such is the case with "Lesage", a song about the relationship between the musician and the instrument, specifically a Montréal-built upright piano. The tune is catchy and the lyrics are amusingly crafted. Listening to this song intently, one may feel as though they are sitting on the piano bench while the song emerges from the keys.
"Growing Old In The City" features a so-called "exotic harmony" found in an old book on "How to write songs". I'm not convinced that the band requires this particular tutelage, but this little experiment results in a song that conflicts me. On first pass, I was caught up in the drama of the song: the zombie beat, horns and accordion transporting you to a funeral march in New Orleans. Listening to it a few more times, though, it morphed into a combination of Three Penny Opera and a Tom Waits experience (think "Alice"). I'm unsure that this song will ever settle into a proper category for me, but also think that this is the song that will have me cheering the loudest at the first indication during a show, or put a smile on my face after hearing it years from now.
My other favourite on the album is "Ghosts In My Garden", with all of its references to famous people like Abe Lincoln and Babe Ruth. There are two things in particular that I enjoy about this song. First off, I've always been a sucker for a waltz and this is a fine modern example. Secondly, up until this point in the album, there is no noticeable electric guitar. It's introduced about two-thirds of the way into this song, with great effect. As an added bonus, once you've committed the lyrics to memory (fun things like "float through the carrots"), it's a great little ditty to sing along with.
Leading an evolving band, Bucky and Matt are successfully experimenting with various orchestrations and arrangements. The album they’ve created is a mix of styles and sounds, featuring horns, a jazzy baritone sax, a reed organ (a domesticated version of a church-resident pipe organ), an accordion, strings, male and female choruses and several delightful percussion treats. Given the plethora of instruments and choruses, it will be interesting to see how this band manifests itself in a live show.
-Lee Fraser, stickymagazine.com