The Albertans - Legends of Sam Marco
Record Label: Ernest Jenning Record Co.
Release Date: June 23, 2009
The market of sweet indie bands has gotten quite saturated over the past few years. This makes new efforts that fall under that stylistic umbrella to be more easily dismissed. So the fact that The Albertans’ Legends of Sam Marco can subtly catch a listeners ear and bring out a smile it’s something worth noting.
The first thing that stands out are the vocals. Lead vocalist/guitarist Joel Bravo has a very understated tone without feeling weak. He sounds exactly like Brandon Riley of Nightmare of You (which is great). Additionally, keyboardists/percussionists Alison Yip and Krystin Monaghan sing lovely backup vocals in unison, combining for a vocal sound very similar to Arthur & Yu’s Sonya Westcott. The two are synched up so tight you may not notice it’s a duo.
From the opening clicking of drum sticks and Yip and Monaghan’s sweetly sung gibberish refrain on “Marie,” an inkling of whimsy is abound. Everything is in a soft focus. Many tracks, such as “Stop” and “Warring Man” are sparse with lots of room to breathe. At times the songs seem to be the musical equivalent of a balloon floating gently, and hopelessly, out of sight.
Legends of Sam Marco displays a refined sense of pace. “OK” has a dignified, delicate air that is hard to not get sucked in by. When classic rock-esque chords ring out later in the song it does not feel overly abrupt and quickly switches back to it’s original feel almost as though no change occurred at all. Likewise, “We’re On Our Own” transitions seamlessly between a Cold War Kids-like clashing intro, bubbly pop, and whisper-soft coos.
The Albertans also understands how to subtly incorporate sonic details. While similar groups have a knack for beating the listener over the head with accents, The Albertans will have none of that. The placement of trumpet bursts on “High Noon” serve as an example to this point. The fiddling on “Sam Marco” furthers the case, starting off almost as an afterthought before busting out into a speedy barn dance foot-stomping solo.
While Legends of Sam Marco is by no means groundbreaking, The Albertans prove to be good at what they do. Those in the market for an under-the-radar indie-pop group to latch onto could certainly do much, much worse.