East Van Special Blend assembles some of Vancouver's finest underground talent
East Van Special Blend (Independent)
Playing devil’s advocate for a second, one might suggest that East Van Special Blend represents a major missed opportunity. If you’re going to release a compilation record meant to be distributed in Vancouver’s finer independent coffee shops, why not take a dark-bean theme and run with it? Imagine the fun that could have been had covering Squeeze’s “Black Coffee in Bed”, Black Flag’s “Black Coffee”, and Alice Cooper’s “Caffeine”.
That quibble out of the way, there’s not much wrong with this roots-heavy collection that assembles some of the city’s finest underground talent. The compilation gets under way with Flatback’s atmosphere-heavy soundscape “In Soot I Sleep” and then proceeds to cover territory that ranges from theatrical alt-rock (Polly’s “Pomp & Circumstance”) to pulsating synth-pop (“Back in the 604” by the Vampire Bats).
Members of the Bloodshot Records Single of the Month club will thrill to the country-fried twang of Just a Season’s “Hey Eddie”, while fans of surf noir will want to head directly to Debra Jean’s “Silver Platter”. The goodness continues with Rodney DeCroo’s chugging Dylan-indebted rocker, “Paris Spleen”, Spoon River’s menacing “Slippery Footed Man”, and the sunny murder ballad “I’ll Bury You” courtesy of Kelly Haigh and Darius Greene.
East Van Special Blend is closed out by the Hard on People’s straight-from-the-’70s riff monster “My Love for You Is Not Dead”. By that time, you’ll have sworn off Starbucks forever and made Continental Coffee your new java joint of choice, if only because they’re more likely to be spinning these songs than some MOR atrocity featuring Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong.