An often unnoticed but nevertheless pivotal presence in the Canadian rock underground who has released two solo albums, played with Sackville, Hangedup, Esmerine, and Hrsta, and mixed albums from a number of prominent artists like Wolf Parade and Molasses, guitarist Harris Newman has a palpable passion for music. Like David Pajo, Jim O'Rourke, and other characters whose names appear in a score of liner note credits a year, playing is just what the guy does — he's no weekend warrior or trend-hopper, but a lifer.
Triple Burner, his new band with percussionist and long-time collaborator Bruce Cawdron, exhibits a degree of symbiosis that attests to both performers' passion and joy-in-playing. This earnestness proves alchemical, too, because for all of their experience, neither Newman nor Cawdron are particularly advanced players. Skilled, yes, but their wide array of influences (psych rock, modern composition, raga, all manners of folk) stretches far beyond their capacities as musicians. At points, this gap between reach and grasp produces constipated songs, pieces that want to say more than they can; the meandering jammer "The Pulse of Parc Ex" encounters this problem most often, as Newman finds himself with nowhere to go rather quickly and fails to bide his time effectively.
The good stuff on Triple Burner sounds least ambitious and most exuberant. "Wall Socket Protector" rides a chugging wheels-on-a-traintrack rhythm and sports some downright filthy licks, finding room for fiery tonal enunciations within the limits of a singular vision. We got another shot of dusty blues in "Bride of Bad Attitude," a song more in line with an acoustic Zeppelin stomp than the hazy-eyed contemporary psych-folk acts that equally lively smoker "The Wherewithal" evokes. Newman and Cawdron may lack the vocabulary of, say, Chasny and Corsano, but they still find effective chord voicings and drum fills that keep their songs engaging and communicate just how much fun they're having to listeners.
1. Kelvin Says
2. The Wherewithal
4. Bride of Bad Attitude
5. Wall Socket Protector
6. The Pulse of Parc Ex