Chris Alscher has been around the Vancouver music scene for long time, gaining local fame with They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and working with the sprawling indie band Collapsing Opposites. But he’s always been more a live musician than a studio one; his stage banter is just as interesting as his songs, and he seems comfortably sincere up there, which is a thing that only happens to some performers after a lot of practice. So in this way Bible Beats is a departure for him, as, for the first time ever, Chris-a-riffic has recorded music to be listened to through headphones.
Don’t let that fool you though, his organ punk is still raw, but now it’s well mixed and has a push/pull building quality. Listen to the horns come into lead track, “Christian Witch.” Listen to the bridge in “I Can’t Carry That.” Hell, listen to all three songs, they’re worth it.
To be honest, the hardest thing to get past is his name. What is this, elementary school? But Chris-a-riffic’s nostalgia and who-cares-let’s-have-fun attitude is a huge part of this music, so it works. And there’s another level to it, but Chris has had the same name in at least five bands now, so it may be a stretch. Either way, putting “riff” in his name is perfect for this music, as all three songs here are based around a single riff that’s introduced at the beginning, and then built upon until the end. This is the same structure that Arcade Fire, Plants & Animals, and 41st & Home have used to great effect; one could even call it a hallmark of Canadian indie music.
Chris is probably going to be uncomfortable with those comparisons; however, and I bet he’s far more comfortable on a small stage than a big one. So don’t expect him the shave the left side of his head. But now, finally, we can happily listen to his music the next time he guest hosts on CBC Radio 3.