CD Review: Young Galaxy, Versus

Following two fantastic shows at the West End Cultural Center this year, opening for Junior Boys and Austra, now is a good time to try this well thought out remix album from Young Galaxy. With the young Montreal duo of Stephen Ramsay & Catherine McCandless plus band mates Max Henry & James Lynn you not only grow a fonder appreciation for the countless hours put into production with the iconic Swedish studio master Dan Lissvik on their recent album Shapeshifters but see the vision of each of the other contributions to remixing these artists.

Young Galaxy’s sound is one that tells a sorrowed story of our Canadian landscape through riveting deep melodic tones and swirling powerful movements of indie electronic dance-fuelled motions. Handsome Furs get “Serve the People” as Young Galaxy’s weapon in a plot to return you to an era of easy flowing chilled 90’s UK pop rock. The vocals float effortlessly on a bed of wispy, filtered undertones delivering a timeless song that any generation can appreciate.

“Lose It” is by far one of the most emotionally moving tracks from Austra and it is a great pleasure to say that they’re treated well in the remix department. Katie Stelmanis’ vocals enter you like a haunting and — with a chilled essence of calm percussion and a swagger of the original melody — fits so well. Johan Agebjorn is an accomplished solo artist that delves in the DJ world with Italo disco from the 80s and his signature vocal stylings cannot be wrapped up in a few words but “enigmatic cinematic soundscapes” might describe them best.

“Watch the World Go By” drifts through happy thoughts and glowing white clouds of enthusiasm. Arkells are another powerful pop sensation from Hamilton and with their recent offering “Michigan Left” you hear a positive movement in the way of a march, with a resounding resemblance to Paul Simon and Talking Heads mixed together in Young Galaxy’s collective efforts on this mix.

One track and band I found interesting that doesn’t really fit the style alongside these artists is The Sound. The quirky shuffle of a reggae beat shimmers beside the slew of poppy key arrangements and air horns that ring a sound of distress. It is wonderful to see how Young Galaxy transformed this track into something fresh sounding for a new audience. With 10 artists getting the remix treatment by a rising band that has some good connections through the Paper Bag Records roster I foresee more Versus-like compilations surfacing in the future.

— Marc Lacasse