Tue, Feb 11, 2014.
Dave Marsh has been around. He's been the anchor of the Halifax indie scene since before it was a scene, coming to the fore in the beloved and still occasionally active The SuperFriendz, and of course, as a founding member of The Joel Plaskett Emergency. Marsh is also that rare beast, a drummer who does his own material. This is his second disc fronting The True Love Rules, after the 2008 gem debut. I loved that disc so much I've been salivating for this one since.
What makes these tracks so enjoyable is how well Marsh has put them together. With a rather encyclopaedic knowledge of rock's past, he can summon just the right guitar line, the perfect background vocals, the right time to use a crazy synth, the appropriate amount of echo on his voice, all the little pieces that make each song sound so great. And what's so interesting is he takes all these bits and pieces, largely found in late 60's to mid 70's albums, and spins them into thoroughly contemporary alt-pop. So you get all these moments where you start thinking about, say, the big Traffic/Mad Dogs and Englishmen/Delaney & Bonnie sound on the title track, or the winking nod to Bowie in This Is How We Say Goodnight ("So let's talk serious under the moonlight"), but there's no one song that they resemble, nor seems more vintage than new.
Lead-off cut She'll Never Hear A Love Song chugs along with a power pop vibe, before breaking into a rockabilly guitar middle. The New Laura Stein, referencing the bass player of Halifax 90's faves Jale, updates the New York Dolls. The charming You Are A Dream starts out with one acoustic, before blossoming into a wall of six strings and ah's and oh-oh-oh's. Love features heavily in most of the tales, mostly describing some pretty fascinating women, always in a positive light. Marsh says these are stories that need telling, and he's certainly spun some fascinating ones. "I like to think I know a thing or two about what the ancients called love," he tells us, perhaps tongue in cheek, but I'm totally entertained, lyrically and musically.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).