Young Galaxy have arrived at a turning point. The Vancouver-by-way-of-Montreal band’s earlier work was largely inspired by groups like Pink Floyd and its descendants, but following a collaboration with Swedish producer Dan Lissvik, they seem to have charted a new course toward more dance-oriented, electronic sound on the appropriately titled ‘Shapeshifting’.

Although the suddenness of the shift has been somewhat exaggerated (I noticed it when they toured through town on their last record, ‘Invisible Republic’), it can’t be denied. Fortunately it doesn’t seem to have done their popularity any harm. The spartan room at Mavericks was packed for their performance with a crowd as youthful as Ontario liquor laws allow.

First off were locals Loon Choir, who seem to have taken over the space previously occupied by Jetplanes of Abraham. Like the Jetplanes and other bands of the era, they seem to have decided the traditional quartet is insufficient to harness their ideas, and have tagged on a couple of extra members to fill out their upbeat, 80s-influenced pop sound. Like Broken Social Scene, the band that launched the trend, they also boast a female vocalist, who finished things off by jumping into the audience, tambourine in hand.

The crowd went completely nuts for Bravestation; like Loon Choir they seemed both surprised and pleased with the audience's enthusiastic embrace. The band’s two key members, brothers Devin and Derek Wilson hail from nearby Brockville, and there seemed to be a local fanclub in evidence. The now Toronto-based quartet makes no secret of their anglophilia, and singer Devin Wilson bears an uncanny vocal resemblance (at least on stage) to Mark Burgess of the Chameleons. There were loud and unfeigned demands for an encore when they wrapped things up.

Young Galaxy played a sharp set, not too long perhaps in deference to singer Catherine McCandless being noticeably pregnant. She was an effective stage prowler nonetheless, and her voice was in top form as the band tore into songs from their latest album. While touches of the band’s psych-pop origins have not been erased, the influence of bands like New Order were definitely in evidence.

The only false note in the performance was set by their light show. The plan was to wear white against a white backdrop and have a projector throw up images on top of them. While fine in theory, the attempt only demonstrated that it almost never works in practice.

Fortunately the music was more than sufficient to satisfy. The band eschewed an encore, but the crowd was clearly impressed at the end.

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Commenting On: Mavericks, Ottawa, 12/3/2011 - Young Galaxy

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