18 Jan 2015
Powder Blue "II"
Reviewed by Nathan Ford
Those of you with long memories may recall how much we loved the debut from this Saskatoon based quartet a couple of years back. They've had the odd change around in the personnel department and increased their profile substantially sense then, but they certainly haven't abandoned any of the qualities that made "Dream in Black" so memorable.
Theirs is a distinctive sound rather than a formula, making their music instantly familiar, without any hint of staleness. Their deconstruction of the Rolling Stones' "Play With Fire" (sadly not included on the E.P) demonstrates their sense of self admirably - it's instantly recognisable to anyone who has heard the original, but could easily pass for an original of the band's if it were to be slotted into the playing order.
"Powder Blue II" doesn't reinvent the wheel then. It doesn't need to. It does everything that "Dream in Black" did, and it does it all so much better. At heart then, they're still a hazy, slow burning, psychedelic dream with the vocals of Shelby Gaudet, Sonia Dickin and Elsa Gebremichael coalescing into a soothing blanket of reverbed loveliness, always with a hint of menace adding an edge to keep the listener engaged. That sense of unease is enhanced admirably by Amber Kraft's tribal toms and guitarist Christopher Laramee who adds plenty of bite.
The whole thing is an easy to digest serving, but closer "Run" may well be the best encapsulation of their past, present and futures tied together; trance inducing vocals over a bed of rolling tom-toms, leading into a feedback laden, carnivale outro with an exhausting crescendo that must make an excellent set-closer live.
Ideal listening conditions? Add a bean-bag and some top notch headphones. Ideal.
You can stream the whole thing, or purchase digitally or on CD here: