Moonface | With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery A Review

Moonface has released its third album recently called Heartbreaking Bravery. Moonface is one of the many projects of Spencer Krug former co-frontman of the now dissolved Montreal indie rock band Wolf Parade.  The last Moonface album which was a purely solo effort, Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped was released last year and was filled with Krug’s signature voice and (you guessed it) organ music. The album was not the strongest work released by Krug to date, as each track was quite long and noticeably experimental.  Fast Peter is the only true standout track on Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped and highlighted what makes Krug a likable song writer.     

With the new album, Moonface is accompanied by the Finnish band Siinai who are best known for their instrumental post-rock.  What came about is something quite different from the last Moonface album, an album filled with emotional anthems with lyrics grounded in a sense of anguish and yes heartbreak like the album’s title would imply.  The track Yesterday's Fire has a dominant drum rhythm throughout with the background filled with an ever-present series of notes played on keyboard which creates a desirable drone affect.  Shitty City starts off with an extended instrumental portion of fast paced synth riff which leads into a brief but poignant set of lyrics conveying regret for not leaving a place sooner; the song may be short but it leaves an impression. There are two standout tracks on this album, Headed for the Door and Teary Eyes And Bloody Lips. They were rightfully released before the Heartbreak Bravery came out in its entirety because they are the two songs that highlight when this collaboration between Krug and Siinai really shines. Both songs are subtle in their execution of the more emphatic moments that come as the song plays through, the way that the cymbal splashes out along with the keyboard when the line “I headed for the door” is sung a number of times at the end, and those little keyboard interludes throughout Teary Eyes And Bloody Lips. It’s these small touches that make them great songs and the best of the album.

Heartbreak Bravery is by far the best Moonface album to date, however, the album projects a sense of unmet scope as though it was trying for some kind of grand emotional anthem. Instead it is much more of a subtle album filled with roughly defined tales of heartbreak and unfinished business.   


M. Ward | First Impressions of A Wasteland Companion

M. Ward stands apart from many folk indie music acts. The lead vocalist Matt Ward has made a name for himself over the past decade or so, contributing to projects like She & Him and the supergroup Monsters of Folk. Ward might not be a household name but there is no doubt that you have heard at least one song from him in the background of a TV show, movie or even more likely a coffee shop. Recently, M. Ward released its latest album A Wasteland Companion. This is Ward’s eighth album with the last one being 2009’s Hold Time, which came out to very positive reviews and was considered by some to be one of the best albums of that year.
A Wasteland Companion is slightly more upbeat than Hold Time while still holding true to the musical style which made M. Ward the well liked folk act that it is. Ward illustrates his ability to perform his charming and well-crafted lyrics in his signature haunting vocal style throughout the album. The lyrics in the track Sweetheart (which features Zooey Deschanel) has a character and cadence that only come from a truly playful and positive creative place.  Clean Slate features a simple acoustic guitar along with a banjo picking progression; the song’s lyrics are straightforward while still managing to leave a lasting impression.  The entire album plays out like a warm summer’s day, full of familiar sounds and an overwhelming sense that in simple things we can find the greatest comfort.  
There is no doubt that this album and its music will find a home in the hearts and minds of fans of Ward, but it may also find some traction with others who have found themselves more and more drawn to this sort of music. Fans of Fleet Foxes last album Helplessness Blues may be drawn to A Wasteland Companion as they both come from a similar stylistic place. With Ward’s penchant for working collaboratively, would it be completely out of the question to hope for a Fleet Foxes/M. Ward project to appear out of the musical ether? Putting aside any wishful thinking, we know one thing for certain, that A Wasteland Companion offers just what you have come to expect from this artist, breezy acoustic guitar progressions which match the voice of Ward so well you could hardly envision him singing accompanied by any other instrument.