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Wolf Parade

The Next Big Thing -- 1/4 & 1/5 @ The Independent

People who know anything at all about Wolf Parade tend to fall into one of two categories: the irrepressible enthusiasts or the jaded cynics.

There are oodles of reasons for the cynical to balk. WP's first full-length album, Apologies to the Queen Mary was released in September and immediately blew up. Within months they transformed from low-profile blog darlings into the Next Big Thing, buried beneath heaps of praise from Rolling Stone and Billboard.

They are from Montreal, which would have been really cool a year ago, but now seems so, well, last year. They have one of those trendy animal band names. They also sound uncannily familiar -- you would not be the first person, or even the five-hundredth to come up with the idea that Wolf Parade is simply a cross between Modest Mouse and the Arcade Fire.

The urge to make this comparison is understandable. Their musical pedigree bears traces of inbreeding that makes for a clearly Canadian, flavor-of-the-year sound. Drummer Arlen Thompson played on the Arcade Fire's "Wake Up", keyboardist Spencer Krug once played with British Columbia band Frog Eyes, and new guitarist Dante DeCaro comes from the Hot Hot Heat.

Their ties to Modest Mouse run deep, too -- it was singer-songwriter Isaac Brock who signed them to Sub Pop and picked them as his tour's opening act, giving them one of their first big breaks.

Be careful though. If you stop reading here you may never give Wolf Parade the chance they deserve. Despite the hype and reactionary cynicism, they are doing a mighty fine job of making eminently listenable music that gets better with each playthrough.

Wolf Parade's passionate, graceful, and evocative lyrics pull you into a washed-out watercolor world of resigned desperation and hazy beauty where ragged memories roam like ghosts. Co-singer/songwriters Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner tear through energetically waltzy numbers that build to orchestral highs and poppier dance-beat numbers that crash up and down electronic arpeggios. The theremin on "Same Ghost Every Night" is a natural pairing with Krug's voice, a rusty, off-kilter yelp that threatens to break into a yodel.

While Wolf Parade won't be starting any genre-shattering revolutions any time soon, their music still has the power to transport in a way that two-bit overnight sensations rarely can.

Playing at the Independent on 1/4/06 & 1/5/06
Show starts at 9pm
Tickets: $15