An Ode and Orison For the Season–Adam & the Amethysts’ “Adam Called Me Over Christmas”

Dec 5th, 2011 in Music

We were recently introduced to Montreal band, Adam & the Amethysts, and have since fallen heavily for their musical purple reign.  They recently released their second album, “Flickering Flashlight,” and it has been quickly rising up our favorite 2011 albums list.  The album is a masterful mix of pop styles that limns many influences (from Girls’ Spector-echo-pop, to 60s’ farfisa organ, to R&B, to plucky folk), but adds hale harmonies, handclaps, chamber touches (cello, clarinet), found sounds (spoons, bottles, bells, etc.), and a waltz or two.  Simplicity has never been more complex.  And all as recorded in leader Adam Waito’s apartment no less, and no more.  Lyrically, the songs movingly capture Waito’s lived-in life between his decampment from the tundra of Thunder Bay, Ontario (a motherlode of amethyst gems–hence the band name) to metropolitan Montreal, and the inevitable remigrations.

The band’s label, Kelp Records, adds this to the understanding:  “For Flickering Flashlight, the Amethysts include musicians drawn from across Montreal’s indie, weird-punk, folk and pop scenes, including members of Miracle Fortress, Sunset Rubdown, Mixylodian, Code Pie, Fuji Hakayito and North, My Love. Rebecca Lessard plays cello and sings back-up vocals. Scott Gailey plays bass. But listen for other things, too: campfire samples, beer bottles, analog synths, electric hand mixers.”  We hear that, and then some.

Initially drawn in by the new album’s dreamy anthem, Dreaming, we now can’t get Flickering Flashlight out of our jukebox.  Pliers, WD-40, Radiohead–nothing.  Every song a gem (beg your pardon).

Given the impending holiday and Christmas season (and its added difficulties for some), the song from the album that’s caught us in its grip is the mournful Adam Called Me Over Christmas, which concerns the passing of Waito’s childhood friend. Due to a digital dust-up, we initially thought this song was the opening track of the album and were concerned about the non-Dreaming songs on the rest of the album.  We were initially put off by the song’s simple narrative that eschews any artifice (see the lyrics below).  But now we get that this approach draws the attention-deprived in and adds immeasurably to the emotional wallop of the song.  With a simple phrase (“and now it’s too late”) and cry, we are quickly brought back to our own losses and our lament for our inaction.  And in the spoon-and-bottle (?) percussion at the end, we have at times imagined morse code signals to and from the other side.  Adam to Adam.  There are few songs as affecting.

We’ll end with this in this holiday season: you who are afflicted, please call.  We plead with you, please call.  For there are many who will happily answer.  And life will be better.

Adam & the Amethysts–Adam Called Me Over Christmas

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/08-Adam-Called-Me-Over-Christmas.mp3|titles=08 Adam Called Me Over Christmas]

Lyrics:

“Adam called me over Christmas, in the middle of the night, but I wasn’t there, and he apologized to my sister, didn’t call him back, and now it’s too late for that; Adam and me were in Candor Garden, and the other kids played with toys, we just sat in our corner drawing our stories, and the teacher thought we were nuts.  Adam called me over Christmas, in the middle of the night, but I wasn’t there and he apologized to my sister, didn’t call him back, and now it’s too late for that.  Adam and me were at Adam’s house playing, and his brother accused him of something, and started choking him until Adam threw up, his mom yelled at him, and I went home.  Adam called me over Christmas, in the middle of the night, but I wasn’t there and he apologized to my sister, didn’t call him back, and now it’s too late for that.”

For other songs somewhat on this tangent, check out The Antlers’ Wake and Sharon Van Etten’s Don’t Do It.  There are many more.

And check out Adam & the Amethysts performing their fine song, Prophecy, for Canada’s SouthernSouls below:

1 Comment

  • In the Prophecy video, the knave on the floor, drumming on the chair, is a crack up! A lot of nice sounds coming out of a crappy room. Any touring dates?

 

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