| ||Chad Van Gaalen |
Perhaps the most endearing part about Chad Van Gaalen is that he's from Calgary. For this unfamiliar with this right-wing, almost-American city, it's based in a little province called Alberta that is filled, yes filled, with oil. it's no secret to anyone these days that where there's oil, there's Americans. Calgary is also home to the Calgary Stampede, a truly red-necked gathering of cowboys, alcohol sales, and bull-riding that takes over the entire city for a few weeks in the middle of summer. Finally, Calgary is growing at an almost scary rate, throwing up homes as if stacking cardboard boxes on top of each other. Their population recently hit one million, which was perhaps the entire population of the province before the liquid gold started flowing at exceptional rates.
The point of this history is this: for Chad Van Gaalen to record such an organic, folked out, electrified album amidst the oil rigs, denim, and construction crews is outright astonishing. Recorded on his own in a dusty basement, Skelliconnection showcases more than one of Van Gaalen's talents. From the vocal ranges on songs like Dead Ends and Rolling Thunder to the pounding instrumentation he provides on great songs like Flower Gardens and Gubbbish.
Red Hot Drops breaths layered keyboard beats behind an unassuming drum beat. The Postal Service would trade their first two albums for this song. Viking Rainbow is as exotic and insane as the song title. Casiotone beats and mis-microphoned drums make up this 2 minute instrumental track that astonishingly fits with the album. Wind Driving Dogs is very much Canadian, with it's Sam Roberts feel, hand-claps warmth, and a slick keyboard that runs head on into a harmonica half way through.
Whether or not Van Gaalen stays in Calgary is a matter unto itself. With their premier recently retired, who knows what's in store for the city and the province. Oh wait, I know. Oil, cash, and lots of each. But for now though, Van Gaalen can play frisbee with his dog at the park as long as he likes. With the province handing out checks to residents of the province (yes, they have that much money) and an album under his belt that's sure to garnish more than one Top Ten of 2006 nod, Van Gaalen's in a pretty good place, even if this place is a dusty basement.
- Darren Susin | 2006-09-06