By Daniel Colussi
From The Handsome Daughter, July 16th 2016
The Handsome Daughter hosted a night of supreme pop music that took four distinct forms.
Supermoon from Vancouver opened, and with them a gentle cloud of chime descended over the room. Supermoon’s tunes recall the jangley, unfussy charm of British C86-style pop. Their songs are snappy and immediate, with liberal use of oohs and ahhhs from each vocalist. Sometimes guitars and basses gets swapped, sometimes one or another takes the lead vocal, but there is a consistent dedication to 80’s guitar pop. If their playing was sometimes tentative and rudimentary, it never felt encumbered. Their Mint Records-released double 7″ is entitled Playland, which feels entirely appropriate to their sound: playful and fun.
Sam Singer followed next, and the vibe shifted somewhat. Where Supermoon played as a tight rhythmic unit, Singer and his band tended towards a more rangey, meandering style. There was a lot going on at once – keyboard melodies, funky bass grooves, and bluesy guitar leads all combatted for attention, but the anchor of the entire set were the surprisingly huge lead vocals. The band showed equal sympathies for lazy, sunbaked California blues-rock and vaguely funky R&B. But ultimately Sam Singer came off as five young dudes having a good time playing their tunes.
By contrast, Jay Arner’s set was a veritable economy of confident and memorable hooks. Over the course of a well-paced set Jay Arner and band glided on a warm jet of melodies. Arner’s squiggley guitar lines entwined with Jessica Delisle’s cloud-busting keyboards to instantly satisfying effect. Arner’s falsetto vocals don’t hurt either. They drew heavily from Arner’s sophomore album Jay II, recently released on Mint Records, and tracks “Like A Dracula,” “Personal Line” and “Back To School all shined. Arner’s tunes are steeped in 80’s tones and tropes – any number of his songs could soundtrack the closing title sequence of a John Hughes movie. But hints of 70’s bubble gum glam sneak in as well. Arner’s set was the most confident of the night, at times evincing a legitimate sense of swagger.
Cannon Bros. had the unenviable task of playing last after three bands but they didn’t seem to mind playing to a smaller crowd. Their enthusiasm was on clear display as they powered through a set of jangled 90’s indebted power pop. I believe they’ve studied all the requisite manuals of 90’s power grunge indie alterna pop and are now well on the way to writing their own. Curiously charming.