February 1st, 2007
The next band who sent me unsolicited email is Plajia, a Canadian band. I was part of a mass mailing by them just shy of a year ago and have finally listened to the songs at their website and I can honestly say that I like them quite a bit. As with their fellow Canucks, Rush, the band are a trio, though not a power trio. There’s little in the way of fat, distorted guitars to be found. Instead there are more clean tones and acoustic as well. OK, there’s some fuzziness to be had but that’s it. “The Party” has lots of jangly guitar and singer Patrick Pleau’s voice initially struck me as a kind of cross between Roger Hodgson and Billy Corgan singing like Thom Yorke. At 6:16, the tune is their epic statement and it’s great. There are several guitar overdubs and they are orchestrated really well – full but not obtrusive. I was reminded of early to mid70s Pink Floyd. The song kind of meanders with the dynamics being very subtle. The song slowly builds with orchestrated guitar parts becoming layered and the tempo hastening just a bit. Great stuff. “Am I Magician” features more dynamic parts and some great soloing. Keyboards are also present to bolster the sound. “Cecilia’s Children” sounds like the band’s homage to surf music with its beat and a staccato solo. But there’s also some great 12-string guitar work and the chorus is just blatantly catchy. Next we have “Singers Being All Alone”. The Thom Yorke singing style really comes to the fore here for me. Radiohead is no doubt an influence on the band and a good starting point for their sound. But Radiohead with most of the snyths replaced by jangly 12-string guitar and some of the ambient replaced by the catchy pop of The Beatles. It’s like The Byrds doing Radiohead. “What Is Your Sign?” sounds like it was recorded at a different time than the above songs as the bass drums are right up front and it sounds like they went with the Bob Rock style that he developed for Metallica. But the songs are nothing like Metallica, mind you. Though there is some busy fuzzy guitar to be had here. A bit more rockin’ than the rest of the stuff but still good. The first two-thirds of “Gifted Suns” has much the same feel as “Feel So Low” by Porcupine Tree. It’s a slow, tender song with heavily-processed vocals. Then there’s a triangle fill and the drums enter the scene with a nice upbeat slow jam to end the tune. Finally there is “Sleeping”. It features a faux string section and is perhaps the most straightforward song of the bunch.
Plajia have a trio of EPs to their credit with Sitis (from 2003) having been expanded into an album in 2005. I didn’t notice any of the songs available for download being on a previous release so hopefully they’ve got a new album in the works.