A few weeks ago, I got to go and adventure through Vancouver for just under a week, as a kind of test run to see if I’d want to live in the city next year. It was the first real trip I’ve taken on my own and I spent the majority of time roaming through the streets listening to music, as per usual.
The music scene there seems very promising. On one weekend, Beirut and Gold Panda were doing separate shows in the city, and quite a lot of acts go through Vancouver on the regular. It’s kind of a necessity that whichever city I end up choosing to live in (a toss up between Vancouver, Tokyo, or somewhere in California), it must have some sort of vibrant music culture to satisfy my craving for live music.
I try to acquaint myself with artists in cities all over the world mainly because there are so many fantastic, untapped sounds to choose from. For Vancouver locals, I really only know of Grimes and Felix Cartal so I was pretty pumped when Mapzzz highlighted a trio called No Gold, who happen to be from the same city. After listening to “Hollarp” I decided to take a look at their bandcamp page and bought their self-titled LP.
We open with an onslaught of synths, noise, and Kevin Shields-esque production style. It reminded me of a mix between two of my favorite songs from the Lost in Translation soundtrack – “Goodbye” and “Sometimes” (I realize “Sometimes” is a My Bloody Valentine song). It sets the stage for a dramatic, avant garde album.
This opens as a clean transition from the intro track, continuing the rainy feel to the album. “Rainforts” is a strong track off the album because even though it opens with undercurrents of sad tones, this song introduces warm elements the previous song was missing. It’s a good song for a live performance where I think No Gold can alter it based on crowd appeal. The guitars and beat are head bobbable, for sure.
3. Weird Week
DANCE TRACK. I want to see this group perform live because of this specific song – it’s catchy, has a driving beat, with such happy sounds that you want to boogie down. The lyrics are funny to boot, making you miss college and being young. It’s short, sweet, and perfect.
4. Council Jam
“Council Jam” takes a bit of a detour from the vibes set by “Weird Week.” From the beginning of the song, there’s a reminiscent quality to it, with quieter vocals and a prominent bass line. The ‘hoos’ and ‘haas’ also help set this mood in motion, even as the song picks up within the first two minutes. Buck up though, because like the title suggests, it’s a jam song making the over all running time sit at eight minutes.
5. Mood Hut
This track is noiseish as it opens though it quickly breaks into a deconstructed melody. It has really cool vocal play and an interesting synth/guitar overlay. They do a good job of featuring every instrument in the band with the drummer having a sped-up spotlight than the other instruments.
I feel like I’m on an off-kilter safari listening to this song. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad track – quite the opposite, actually. It does a good job of keeping a flow going for the overall LP but still slows down the album to push it into a more ambient, funkier direction. It’s shorter which adds a nice flavor change from a few of the longer tracks the LP has to offer.
We’re back to an alternative, noise pop song à la Kevin Shields/MBV. It’s complete flip flop from the beginning vibes of the LP even though it’s a nod back to “Rainforce.” One of my favorites overall ’cause the beginning guitar and synths are darker but it still keeps a finger snapping beat. I can’t say the bass line is sexy, even though we know how I love the sexy bass lines. It’s dirty in a funk sorta way, which is the best kind of dirty.
No Gold’s closing track has a fun feel to it, keeping with the quieter vibes of the latter half of the album while still tying it together with the earlier, upbeat songs of the LP. I’m a big fan of the guitar conversation and the ‘real-life’ sounds of normal life with developing synths coming just underneath it.
After thinking about what ties the album together, I came to the conclusion that the drumbeats make this a cohesive album. Usually, having the same beat drives me up a wall from extreme boredom, but in No Gold’s case this works out fine. They do a good job of vocal play, synth work, and poppier guitars creating a well-constructed album. “Rainforts,” “Weird Week,” and “Resolver” remain to be my favorite songs off the album, while “We/Be/Do” is probably the most interesting track the band put out for No Gold.
Overall, I’d sit the album at a 7. “Hollarp” is a solid example of the growth and potential No Gold has for the future, so I’ll keep them on my list of groups to watch out for. Good job, Vancouver.