Tue 7 Oct 2008
My kid could draw that!
When news got out that Neil Young would be headlining Big Day Out 2009, there was palpable excitement, and justifiably so. But while many have heard of the revered poet, few have heard of a man who many people compare to Young. Multitalented Canadian Chad VanGaalen is an animator, illustrator, multi-instrumentalist and now celebrated artist thanks to his recently released third album, Soft Airplane. The ever-wise Sub Pop picked up on VanGaalen when his makeshift bedroom antics were recorded onto cute hand-illustrated CDs and released by awesome Canadian indie label Flemish Eye. Catching my ear initially with his 2006 song Flower Garden, I found him on Canadian blog I Heart Music’s top 30 for 2007, with him ranking at #22. I now think he deserves much higher than that. With mature, world-weary songs aching with a bleeding heart and a fiery belly, blues-tinged electric guitar echoing through and shaking, warbling vocals that are uncannily like Young’s, Chad VanGaalen’s poetic bliss continues to deliver song in, song out. While some of it can veer into scarily dark experimentalism, most songs are filtered through sun spots dappling Soft Airplane like light that flows through an oak tree. The album is fleshed out with electronic and vocal arrangements, with awesome African finger piano and clanging percussion fading out songs such as Inside The Molecules. He’s been said to make himself sound bigger than one man, and with his homespun ghetto blaster and tape machine-recorded masterpiece created with handmade instruments and analogue devices, Soft Airplane is like a premature legacy, a sequel to The Soft Bulletin set in the hazy future, or a sci-fi robot Thurston Moore. With so much potential bursting out of every seam, VanGaalen is currently touring with one of my favourite underground Canadian groups, Women. Here’s hoping they’ll both make it down to New Zealand soon!
Chad VanGaalen- Inside The Molecules: MP3
Chad VanGaalen- TMNT Mask: MP3