The Buttless Chaps Where Night Holds Light

[Mint; 2006]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: alt. country, indie rock
Others: Camper Van Beethoven, Nathan, Wilco, The Jayhawks, Rheostatics

Right away, this Vancouver-based menagerie gets points with me for having the first band name to make me laugh in quite some time. It's a name that's as fun to say as it is hard to forget. With that, there is a heavy glow of quaint Canadiana swelling out from Where Night Holds Light, the assless ménage à quatre's seventh album since 1998. The desolate, yet full instrumentation pairs with the downplayed male and female vocal delivery in a certain crushed but surviving way that I've only seen in the likes of Young & Sexy, the Rheostatics, and other such Twitch City/Made In Canada types (what is Rick Mercer doing now anyway?). Though, the fact that two Rheostatics appear here probably helped push that one up a little. Regardless, it was once explained to me by my favorite college professor, Genevieve Later, a U.S. citizen living in Canada, that in coming up north and walking around, she felt something missing. It took her some time to figure out what it was, but she eventually did. She no longer felt the inborn sense of national identity and pride that appears as nature in the land of plenty and then some (we've got more of a pretentious cheer turning to spiteful pride thing, cut with a sense of dread and global insignificance going on up here). Our folk music represents this. Just compare a ball-kicking Woody Guthrie track to our outspoken but soft-sung "Stompin'" Tom Connors, and listen for yourself (both of them are legends). With this loose, pot-induced connection in mind, there is a certain tone of bitterness and subtle dissent about The Buttless Chaps' latest Mint offering. Included in this is an almost slacker rock homage in album opener "Caboose," later progressing to shoegazer for the intense synth-rock breakout in the title track — both of which sound gracefully anachronistic but never out of place. Also like "Stompin'" Tom, it's bands like this that make it easy to get Nickelback out of my mind and, for the first time since our last Olympic gold metal, make me proud to be Canadian.

1. Caboose
2. Blanket Of Pain
3. Cornered & Jaded
4. Master & Commander
5. Movements
6. Migratory Birds
7. Insects
8. The Poacher
9. Where Night Holds Light
10. Occupations Of Freedom