steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

A.C. Newman

"The Slow Wonder" CD

The Blue Curtain / Matador Records

Genres: indie pop, power pop

The Blue Curtain
726 Richards St
Vancouver BC
V6B 3A4

Sep 13 - 19 2004

Very few songwriters can make pop music sound this good.  But A.C. Newman, lead songwriter for everyone's favourite New Porrnographers, can.  And he does.  And so I'm overjoyed to be reviewing the Canadian version of his solo debut, The Slow Wonder, which came out on BC label The Blue Curtain as well as indie conglomerate Matador Records.

Led by main single "Miracle Drug," The Slow Wonder makes a case for the best-of-2004 lists right from the start.  It is energetic, peppy power pop - you can  definitely sense the New Pornographers sound in there, but it's been given a nice makeover.  "On The Table" and "The Town Halo" share this infectious, spirited style - they simply gush happiness and excitement - but the real fun comes when A.C. Newman changes things up a bit.  The delicious "Drink To Me, Babe, Then" has the makings of a true classic - undoubtedly one of the best songs on here, it combines pained vocals with a deceptively mellow, infinitely catchy song structure.  "Come Crash" has a similar, relaxed sound - both laid back and immediately infectious - and "Better Than Most" is the type of lush pop number that stays in your head for weeks.

A.C. Newman hasn't rewritten the pop book, but The Slow Wonder is one of the best albums the genre has seen in a long while.  Any one of these songs could be a mainstream hit, but they're far too good to sink to that level.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 11 tracks, distributed by Matador, released 2004]