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Gary Olson and co. have done it again! More heart melting vignettes of yearning, loss and brighter times ahead, all souped up in the golden afternoon sound that the Ladybug Transistor have made their own. As well as the usual gang at Marlborough Farms, this time 'round the family get-together has yielded spirited contributions from new collaborative members Kyle and Ben (of Great Lakes), as well as members of the Aislers Set, Architecture in Helsinki, Vetiver, and Jens Lekman.
1) Always on the Telephone
2) I’m Not Mad Enough
3) Here Comes The Rain
5) This Old Chase
6) For No Other
7) Three Days From Now
9) So Blind
10) Broken Links
11) California Stopover
12) Lord, Don’t Pass Me By
"Can't Wait Another Day, the Ladybug Transistor's sixth album, finds them back in their home studio, Marlborough Farms, after a jaunt to Arizona for their previous release. Gone are the wide, dusty expanses of 2003's Ladybug Transistor in favor of the idyllic suburban sounds Gary Olson and Bill Wells have consistently conjured during Ladybug's long career. Gone too is Sasha Bell, who opted out of the band in favor of a full-time commitment to the Essex Green. Her songwriting, keys, and vocals are missed, but the band drafted in some fine singers to fill her shoes (Alicia Vanden Heuvel of the Aislers Set, Frida Eklund of Alma) and also added Great Lakes member Kyle Forester on all manner of keyboards. Olson also brought in guitarist Ben Crum (also from Great Lakes), as longtime Ladybug Jeff Baron's involvement in the band has lessened, too. So, those are the changes to the scorecard; the real question is, does the record suffer for the lack of old blood and influx of new? The simple answer is no, mostly because Gary Olson hasn't changed. He still possesses the finest baritone warble in indie rock, writes (with the help of his bandmates) unfailingly catchy pop tunes and perfectly pitched melancholy ballads, and produces records that sound like a cross between the Left Banke and Buckingham-led Fleetwood Mac. He also has a knack for picking covers -- in the past their version of Jan & Dean's "Like a Summer Rain," here Trader Horne's "Here Comes the Rain" and Samara Lubelski's "Broken Links," both of which perfectly complement the group's originals. Speaking of which, the songs on Can't Wait are among the best the band has recorded; maybe it's the new lineup or the return to their home studio, but something seems to have spurred the band to give its sound a boost of energy and imagination. They sound a bit more like a rock band and less like a chamber pop ensemble on songs like "In-Between" and "California Stopover," which is not a bad thing after so many records that captured that chamber pop sound so perfectly. The addition of strings on large portions of the album also makes things more sonically satisfying and adds some emotional punch to the ballads, especially the song that closes the album with a Bacharach-ian shot right to the heart, "Lord, Don't Pass Me By." The changes to the band are sad for longtime fans (none more so than the tragic passing of drummer San Fadyl just weeks before the album's release), but the end result is another beautiful record that stands right alongside the group's best work. And if you've been following them at all, you know that the Ladybug Transistor's best work equals the best pop music made at any time in the past 50 years." Tim Sendra, allmusic.com
"For more than 10 years Gary Olson and the Ladybug Transistor have explored '60s pop with varying degrees of lush orchestration, fey indie simplicity, charming kitsch and melancholy songwriting acumen. Can't Wait Another Day may well be the group's finest work to date, a simple, straightforward batch of emotional love songs that hearkens to A.M. radio-pop like the Walker Brothers or Lee and Nancy with remarkable honesty and authenticity. The group has refined their studio mastery and arranging skills to a point where these homemade tracks envelop the listener with ringing reverb guitar, swelling strings, punchy horns and a Hammond or Wurlitzer thrown in for good measure. Retro without being stylized, emotional without being melodramatic, the Ladybug Transistor has made a lovely, understated album that was made for the sweet summer afternoons coming our way." Other Music
While Yea Big + Kid Static tell me to shut up, The Ladybug Transistor kind of encourage the gentle, profoundly questioning approach. What do we want out of music? Simplicity? Complexity? Profound sentiments and melody? If you’re like me you never really ask for anything, and then when something like this pops up you’re free to appreciate it for what it is.
If that's the approach of a Pop geek then I can take it, I’m definitely one, and in an artistic world increasingly driven by market trends and hollow hedonism something like Can't Wait Another Day can blow me apart. Brooklyn’s The Ladybug Transistor have been knocking around since the mid 90s, and have grown into a retinue of musicians that have spouted around them on the Marlborough Farms/Elefant 6 scene in the finest Pop tradition.
Their seventh album features contributions from members of Aislers Set, The Clientele, Architecture in Helsinki, Great Lakes and Jens Lekman, yet essentially and maybe miraculously it retains a definite individual direction, Olson leading from the front with a dulcet baritone voice and quaint ear for the orchestral flourish, forever encouraging his friends to new heights.
Can’t Wait Another Day floats from optimistic melodic numbers like opener 'Always On the Telephone' to its downbeat and teary title track, the sounds sprouting off in all kinds of directions in between and teeming with disparate flavours, each one sitting with a perverse sense of ease. Inspired quirks come through the seams of songs to subtly push them to new heights, most memorably the country guitar that swishes through 'Always on the Telephone', making it sound like a dusty old Highwaymen classic, and the jazzy piano which drives 'Three Days From Now' on in a heavenly retro fashion.
If I’m not mistaken there’s a whiff of Lekman to 'Three Days From Now', wilfully, rebelliously stylish and etching new Pop constellations out of the apparently obsolete, and Jens’ unmistakeable touch can also be heard in 'I’m Not Mad Enough', his lunatic-brilliant use of long-forgotten keyboard sounds assimilated in a song that sways with a smattering of soothing orchestral nous.
A feminine touch also runs through Can’t Wait Another Day, the voice of violinist Julia Rydholm often joining Olson and adding another layer of empathetic allure, and it’s all heroically underplayed from start to finish, forty minutes of Pop in its most beguilingly classical, sparklingly emotional form. It won’t win any awards, just the hearts of anyone with a smattering of purity.