Under Review

Lydia Hol’s second full-length album, self-released on September 17, is a Western quick draw between glamour and isolation. Ruminating on 60s Hollywood and celebrity culture during a time of intense social fragmentation, she invites listeners to scratch at the shiny surface of the “Golden Dream” — California’s iconic utopian narrative.

Overall, the album’s instrumentation is richly layered and soulful. Elements of folk, country, blues, and indie rock are evident throughout, and what emerges is a nine-track collection that is masterful and gorgeous. A dreamy melange of distorted guitar, snare, strings, bells, and lap steel evoke imagery akin to chasing a mirage through the desert — a plight both dismal and mesmerizing.

Hol’s vocals are tender, soothing and deeply meditative. Lyrically, she is poetic in her questioning of our collective cultural illusions of fame that have persisted since Hollywood’s inception.

In the opening track, “Golden Dream,” she introduces her overarching contemplation: “Is everyone as happy as they seem / In California?” Evidently, the brighter the sun, the darker the shadow.

In “Silver Screen,” she paints this haunting truth beautifully: “In that LA sunset, you look like a ghost.” Again, in “Make This Better,” she peels away at this allegory, proclaiming, “Who are you pretending to be? / Some faded Hollywood dream.”

Though profoundly powerful from start to finish, it is Hol’s rendition of Hall & Oates’ party playlist classic, “Rich Girl,” that really punches you in the gut. Dramatically slower and soul-infused, this classic dance tune becomes downright heavy. Without changing the song lyrically, Hol’s arrangement unravels the entwinement of fortune and estrangement in a way that feels refreshingly raw.

Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream is a thoughtful critique on the fetisization of California as the epicentre of glamour and happiness. Though dreamy and divine to the touch, these songs are concerned with dimming the stars in our eyes and drawing attention to the grit under our nails, a feat Hol accomplishes elegantly.—Amanda Thacker

author
Todd McCluskie

This past weekend as the  autumn deluge of wet  splashed the west coast,  I decided to get my “Primp” on and check out the latest effort from Vancouver’s all girl trio, Primp. According to my trusty Webster’s Dictionary, the term “primp” means the following  —  “to dress, adorn, or arrange in a careful or finicky manner.” The irony here is that this low-fi bedroom project (recorded in Surrey) is clearly un-finicky, raw  and quite un-primp like in fact. Afterall, under-produced is the new overproduced.

Their new record Daytona was released July 1, 2021 and the group is supported  through Youth Riot Records in Seattle, Washington. Primp is Aly Laube (vocals / guitar) , Tae Whitehouse (drums / vocals) and Kristen Frier (bass / vocals, and apparently, giggles.) Previous releases include 2018’s Half Bloom and Mother Loose from 2019.

This batch begins with the track “You Kiss Boys For Fun” (apparently the band’s ode to spring break shenanigans) / “Yep” and finishes strong with the luscious “Screamy”. The opener, “You Kiss Boys For Fun” is a  45 second,  repetitive romp  which blends into the more developed, hooky offering “Yep”. “Yep’s” intro kicks off with a killer bass line, and features a  retro sweet harmony that jetitsons me to a sort of 80’s Go-Go’s / Bangles vibe — “Yep / Wow / Yep / Uh Huh / Shut me out…” But “Screamy” is easily the most interesting track. The song opens with a dreamy, descending guitar riff accompanied by an almost hypnotic, melodic lead vocal provided by Aly Laube. The verse  is reminiscent of a Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd deep cut, that melts over you like a lost weekend involving a rogue magic mushroom mishap. Then, the chorus catapults into a cringe-worthy rock god scream,  and degenerates into a much higher pitch yelp that is rather, “Screamy”. All  rock vocalists worth their salt, need a kick-ass blood curdling scream in their arsenal — and we have lift off here.

The band has described themselves as, “dreamy garage rock,” “punk” and “power pop.” The key element here appears to be the  seemingly unaffected guitar twang. Likely a fun group to witness live, so scan your local listings for future gigs. I’ve always been a sucker for punk-a-licious  groups with a quirky edge, since seeing (local 3 chord songsters) the Dishrags back in the day, so Primp now carries that torch loud and proud. In the end, I did  manage to get my “Primp” on and quite liked it! Yep, Yep, Yep, Yep…  —Todd McCluskie