Album Review: Canasta's The Fakeout, The Tease and The Breather

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Canasta is a Chicago orch-pop band who has been on the verge since it's conception in 2002. Never proclaiming to be a standard rockband-the set up includes 6 players on guitar, bass, drums, keys, violin, piano, and trombone-their music leans handily toward the trend of musical collective in the vein of Belle & Sebastian and too many Canadian bands to mention.

Founded by Matt Priest and Elizabeth Lindau, the band has since cycled
through 15 members and have landed at this week and the release of their second
full length album, The Fakeout, The Tease and The Breather. The much anticipated follow up to their 5-year-old freshman effort, We Were Set Up,
finds the band on slightly more mature ground, while maintaining the
same, meticulous layers of pop and alt-country that have earned them
soundbites in a feature film, on TV commercials, and a spot on NPR's World Cafe.

To say that The Fakeout, The Tease and The Breather perpetuates Canasta's
mid-western appeal would be an understatement. Priest is vocally
reminiscent of The New Pornographer's A.C. Newman and tracks like
"Choosing Sides" find Lindau stretching to sound like Neko Case or
Ellen Campesinos! 

I could speak of well spun tracks like "Magazine" and the synth
poppy-keys or the spaghetti western appeal of "Appreciation." But what
I'm really struck by on this album is how the group manages to
sound like so many bands I've heard- I mean I've already name checked
Belle & Sebastian, New Pornographers, and Los Campesinos!  Add a
pinch of Elefant, a tablespoon of Andrew Bird and a half cup of
Wilco and you've got the recipe for Canasta.

The more I listen to the album, the more I like it, this is not a facile attempt at pop music. Priest's voice was at first annoying, but
grew on me as I found it's nuance matched the composition
perfectly. What intially sounded like canned music collective arrangements on a borderline masturbatory (in this day and age at least) 55 minute album, grew into a more intriguing homage to making music in Chicago at the turn of the century.

Listening to The Fakeout, The Tease and The Breather, is pleasant on the surface, but not for the faint of hearing, take a minute with this one for maximum enjoyment.
The new album was released on May 18th and is available for purchase here.   Upcoming local appearances include a spot on Chicago Tonight (WTTW, Channel 11) on May 26th, A show at 11 am on June 13th at the Andersonville Midsommarfest, and finally to play with Mucca Pazza at Lincoln Hall on June 23rd.

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