Growing up, my parents loved to subject me to annual trips into the Canadian wilds and across borders, visiting every middle-of-nowhere town along the way. Spending those interminable hours driving through towering stone alleyways in the Rockies, or along the gray coasts of Oregon, I gained an appreciation for self-reflection and for music that provided the best soundtracks for those lonely times.
Road-trip music is an under-appreciated genre in my opinion. It can be difficult to make an album that is bearable enough to be listened to even once, let alone repeatedly over the span of days. The best road-trip music in my opinion, bottles up the isolation and melancholic boredom of the road and mixes it up with a healthy sprinkling of whimsy. One new find that I`ll be adding to my road-trip playlist is the debut album by Edmonton’s Calvin Love.
Love’s album, New Radar, is a collection of self-professed “lo-fi bedroom pop” that takes the listener on a journey into his slightly depressive contemplation on past relationships and life. Love began playing music at the age of 13 and his roots are in the punk scene where he was a member of various now-defunct bands. While Love doesn’t admit to being influenced by his environment, there does seem something very wintry and Canadian in his music. Perhaps it`s the way that Love sings so plaintively, or if you’re a very literal thinker, there’s even a song titled “Bring back the summer” – and what Canadian wouldn’t like more of that? For all the moaning however, the new-age sound that dominates New Radar strikes to mind more the sunnier climes of LA, which is where Love spends his time between Edmonton and the road.
If you’re not a fan of distortion, drum machines, or the film Drive, then run away now as that is pretty much the foundation of this album. Love manages to rescues himself from certain monotony by providing some catchy hooks on songs like Magic Heart and Konica, while kicking things up a notch with the upbeat Waiting on You. Actually now that I think about it, just like in Drive, I think I enjoy the instrumentals more than the vocals – the song Echos, where Love’s voice is digitized beyond recognition, is a great example.
If you`re looking for a new artist to get you through those lonely holiday travel times, then definitely give Calvin Love a spin. While it`s not a perfect effort, you may just surprise yourself with how many times you`ll have it on repeat.