Despite the fact that it’s been happening for about two decades now, it seems to me that we’re still at the tip of the iceberg with the whole homemade/lo-fi/DIY recording era. Bedrooms and basements are competing with recording studios as places where art is being created with the intention of being shared. It’s not a new idea to say that the internet has afforded anyone with an instrument and a laptop the ability to record some songs and post them publicly. But the idea of some of the best new music from young artists coming from this background might be. Websites such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud foster confidence and growth in emerging artists behind a wall of relative anonymity. You suck? Well, at least you might not have to wait for the awkward non-response of 50 people at Open Mic Night to find out. But if you’re shy and your good? Well, then people will respond if you find the right ears to listen.
Vancouver’s Ian Johnston, better known as Shakysnakes online, is just such an artist. He’s been recording lo-fi folk/pop songs for a few years, but is just now starting to emerge out into a bigger musical community. The thing that stands out to me about his music is how well Johnston not only records but also arranges the vocal parts to his songs. The first song he sent was over “You, You, You”, along with the note that it was sunny today so I opened my windows real wide and played with all these reverbs. It ended up producing this. The song is a pleasantly straightforward folksy little dream-pop gem, but the thing that knocks me on my ass are all the extra melodies and counter melodies at work during the chorus. “Fever When You Spoke” is different – it’s begins with low sound effects and simple electric guitar strumming that make the song sound like it’s coming from some endless dark tunnel, but then Johnston’s ghostly, cavernous lead vocal comes in and, like some lo-fi Leonard Cohen, claims “Well I kinda think the reason for your sadness is your sadness / And I kinda hope that it’s all your fault.” It’s as effectively stark and moody as “You, You, You” is airy and wistful, and together make me think that only good things lay in store from Shakysnakes.
MP3 :: You, You, You
MP3 :: Fever When You Spoke