Saturday, January 31, 2009

Giraffes united against ceiling fans, OKgiraffe united in making music...

One of the first things I do when receiving new albums at the station is mark up the cases and discs with a sharpie to prevent them from being lifted from UMFM and sold (and believe it or not I've heard of this happening at other stations - and I've personally seen what I know are radio promo copies for sale at Cheapo in Minneapolis).
The added benefit of marking up the discs is a chance to check out something more than the cover art - sometimes if I were just relying on my initial impression of an album's cover I'd pass over some decent records that don't grab my attention off the hop. A classic example of this is the Parlour Steps self-titled album, but for a more recent case-in-point I turn to this entry's subject, Montreal band OKgiraffe.

The cover of OKgiraffe's new record (pictured above) is kind of cutesy, but didn't really grab my attention. It was when I turned to the inlay and found a picture of the band holding a curious assortment of instruments that my interest was piqued. Standing in the middle of an ill-lit street, Brandon Goodwin stands behind a lone snare drum, beside him Rosa Smedley supports an upright bass and to her left Kevin Bertram cradles an accordion. I had to give this album a listen.

Thankfully OKgiraffe don't just have a fantastic photographer in their arsenal - they've also got a clutch of great tunes that utilize their peculiar instrumentation to full effect. Consider "Heaven Only Knows," where the accordion line introduces the melody and then takes a backseat role with a rhythm-guitar-type line while Smedley RAPS IN FRENCH!! What with living in Montreal it's not totally surprising that they're bilingue but the way they back-and-forth within the song is still impressive. And the song is damned funky for something so folky.

That strange juxtaposition of funk and folk is what makes this record so compelling - there's a tongue-in-cheek mention on the band's Sonicbids EPK that says OKgiraffe "leads the Urban gypsy surprise movement." I don't know if there is such a movement but after listening to OKgiraffe I'm hoping one develops so I can hear more of this type of music. Speaking of more, check out "Let Them Go" and then go check out the band's Myspace page.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

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