New Music Series: Blanket Barricade (Part One)

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    Last Thursday, our new photographer Amy and I had the pleasure of meeting with up-and-coming Vancouver band, Blanket Barricade, before their debut show. It was a cool, rainy night in Vancouver but the warm chandelier-lit Joe’s Apartment served as an appropriate venue for this promising band’s coming out party. The result of 3 years hard work by frontman Wesley Krauss, Blanket Barricade’s debut album, Parade Bells, is due to hit Itunes at the end of this month, and they’ve been busy releasing extremely creative music videos online in order to drive up the buzz. Before meeting with the band, I had watched a few of these mini-movies on their website, and was eager to see how that creativity and intricate layering of sound and visuals would translate to a live performance.
    Amy and I arrived a little early at the venue and first met with Wesley about 20 minutes before the opening band was set to begin. Over the course of the night, the other 5 members of Blanket Barricade stopped by to chat, helping build not only the story of the band and the album, but anticipation for their live debut, as well. Although his actual work for this particular album began three years ago, it’s clear that Parade Bells is something Wesley has been working towards for far longer. The band name, in fact, comes from his childhood, representing the endless experiential possibilities created by building forts at home, with just the combination of blankets and his imagination. Indeed, Wesley’s imagination is a key factor in Blanket Barricade’s sound, as the individual tracks boast up to 70 layers, combining to create what he and the band describe as “theatrical rock”. When I think of layers I think Phil Spector-produced bands and that influential Wall of Sound aesthetic, but Blanket Barricade is right to cite artists like Billy Corgan and the Arcade Fire as stronger influences, as it is not just the layering of instruments and vocals but the juxtaposition between soft and loud and the resulting creation of atmosphere that sets this band apart.
    Speaking with the other members of the band, who have all been brought in within the past year in order to help Wesley bring his creation to stage, it is clear the respect they have for his vision and the album. In fact, when asked how they would be able to bring all 70 layers to life with only 6 people performing, Wesley’s bandmates are confident that their onstage energy and the strength of his vocals would make up for the difference between a produced record and a live show. Playing with Wesley as Blanket Barricade tonight are five other skilled and distinct musicians. As their regular touring bassist is currently in New Zealand, Capilano music student, Trevor, has been brought in on bass. At the other end of the spectrum, in terms of longevity within the band, is Mary-Lee, Wesley’s Quebecoise girlfriend who is responsible for not only back-up vocals and percussion, but who has also designed the artwork accompanying each song on the inside jacket of the album. Rounding out the 6-piece live band are Steve (drums), Sam (piano), and Myles (flute and keyboards).
    At 8:15pm, the lights in Joe’s Apartment dim and the live DJ hands the spotlight over to opening band, Windsor Castle. The show has begun…
    Stay tuned for a full show recap and, later, a review of Blanket Barricade’s debut album. But for now, check out their website and videos, including Part One of a 4-Part music video saga (just released yesterday):
http://blanketbarricade.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIyI04Gk7ZM

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