steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

The Salteens

"Moths" EP

Boompa Records

Genre: Van City indie rock / power pop glory

Vancouver, BC

April 2010

More characteristically sterling pop from these winsome Vancouverites, whose last album is but a distant memory from 2003. In the interim, they've maintained square radio silence, despite an unlikely appearance on Australian children's television program Yo Gabba Gabba! Well, I still recall the glorious, meaningless AM-pop of 2000's sugary "Bubba Da" -- my lone exposure to the troupe, I should mention -- though Moths is a whole new story. They retain their cheery demeanour and their undisguised love of sixties pop stylings, but the overall charm is somehow more polished, and more refined. Lyrically, Moths deals in a sense of disillusionment which sets up a neat juxtaposition with the band's melodic effusiveness. Lead songwriter Scott LD Walker is no Paul Heaton, but he does sweat out more than a few frustrations through these six songs; these come to a point on regretful "All We Want is What You've Got" and deceptively bitter "Sunnyside Street."

Musically, the band brandishes an intimidating set of hooks, powering through sticky melodic phrases with professional fluency. Opener "Frequency" and "All We Want is What You've Got" see the band at their best, the former a Sloan-esque reminder of Canadian indie rock glory, the latter an irresistible bittersweet epic. Meanwhile, "Hallowed Ways" emphasizes the points they share with citymates The New Pornographers, with dramatic, horns-and-piano tinged instrumentation, and swoopy group harmonies. Fiery rocker "We Can Go On," though serviceable, is the record's weak spot; as the guitars are turned up, Walker's juicy sound loses some of its potent sheen -- at least in relation to its discmates. Still, it's a lone and minor pockmark on an otherwise swell EP; the bulk of Moths is populated with enough zippy choruses, melodic flourishes, and moments of deft songwriting to render it highly recommendable.


Let's talk about your appearance on 'Yo Gabba Gabba' -- was the experience as cheery and fun as the songs would suggest? How did it come to fruition in the first place?

When we toured the first two records we befriended a great pop band from Orange County called Majestic. Scott from Majestic and all of his friends and family went on to create 'Yo Gabba Gabba,' and we got the call in season 1 to do a song. And then we did another song. And then they asked us to come on set and shoot a video. And honestly, I think that it is the best thing we have ever done. At the same time, in the process of recording songs that someone else had written, we discovered that there was a Salteens formula to arranging a song. That realization informed our recordings since then – mostly as a sense of creative freedom because we had certainly gone as far as we could with that sound.

How did the creative process behind Moths differ from that of your two prior albums?

Moths is really strange because it is a bunch of recordings done over a number of years, but it sounds like a pretty unified effort. We mostly recorded the songs a few at a time, so we didn’t have that same rushed “get ten songs recorded in 3 days” vibe that we had worked with previously.

Comparatively heavy "All We What is What You've Got" is one of Moths' undeniable highlights. Could you elaborate on the angst expressed within?

Well, 9 out of 10 current band members have a music degree, so I tend to write a few metaphors that are nerdy music term related (I tend to talk about what I think about), and there was a shared sense of us all growing up and getting straight jobs, so that is in there, and certainly for myself, there was a lot of pressure in my life at the time to conform to a more conventional measure of success, so that is in there too.

With other bands breaking rallying around feedback noise, epic keyboard shards, and abstract song structures, is there still room for good ol' fashioned Canadian indie rock on the scene?

Um, I don’t really know. I think that maybe we are into the same noise, abstraction, and epic ideas, but we are just subtle about it, if not subversive. Is that Canadian-esque?

What do y'all like to eat with Saltines? Sardines?


(Hee hee hee.)

the salteens' myspace

"Thoughts from Sound," from 2003's Let Go of Your Bad Days:

Michael Tau

[Vitals: 6 tracks, distributed by the label, released May 11, 2010]