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I Give You ... Canoe!

Wednesday, Feb 25 2004
In 2002, Amazing Grease released Ten Years of Noise Pop, a two-CD compilation commemorating the local festival's double-digit anniversary. The move made sense, considering how Scott Kannberg's label is something of a depository for NP graybeards like Carlos, Oranger, and the Moore Brothers. But now the move appears prescient as well, since the imprint is responsible for one of Noise Pop 2004's most promising acts -- Canoe.

It's easy to see what attracted the label owner and former Pavement guitarist/singer to this Austin group. The Texas trio's first CD, I Give You ... Canoe!, bears the inky stamp of Stockton's favorite sons, with plenty of spazzy feedback, catchy riffs, and smart-boy shouting. "Panty Pile" could be an outtake from Slanted and Enchanted, with its "ba da bada ba" line and its so-simple-it's-genius keyboard part. For "Corndogs Are Our Friends" lead singer Justin Preston delivers Malkmus-esque slacker lyrics -- "All these things were complicated/ Summer camp was overrated" -- in a voice that rises to a pretty falsetto.

But Canoe has little use for the clever obscurities and measured singing of the Pavement frontman. This is music to be screamed and shouted and danced to. As the carnival barker says at the beginning of the disc, "I'm talking about guitar licks and hot riffs and lovely women and sex!" At times Preston seems so amped that he might blow out his trachea, whether he's howling about lying to his girlfriend ("Feed the Raccoon") or suggesting the perfect place for his organ ("Put it in your mouth/ Stick it in your ass"). Meanwhile, the other musicians unleash a furious cacophony, bashing the bejesus out of gooey pop hooks. By the time Canoe reaches its final track, "Settle Down ... I'll Never," the question is obvious: With tunes this good, why would you want to?

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Dan Strachota


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