Chad VanGaalen – Soft Airplane

October 24, 2008

In my review of Calgary based multi-instrumentalist and one man band Chad VanGaalen’s last album, Skelliconnection, I described his work as sounding “like a collaboration between Devendra Banhart, Beck and the Moldy Peaches.” To some degree this description holds true for Soft Airplane, his third LP, but I think I’d add in Sonic Youth at their most experimental to the mix. The songs on Soft Airplane are preoccupied for the most part with death and mortality, and the music is more aggressive and frequently more abrasive than the music found on his previous releases. The potent combination of folk with rock, experimental pop and any number of other musical styles makes for an appropriately otherworldly sound that’s both engaging and possessed of an eerie beauty. I was mightily impressed with Skelliconnection, to the point where I declared it one of the best albums of 2006, but VanGaalen has outdone himself in a big way, Soft Airplanes representing a considerable leap forward, the sound of someone coming into their full powers as an artist. Standout cuts: “Willow Tree,” “Cities Of The Dead,” “Poisonous Heads” and “Molten Light.”


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