Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ticket/CD Giveaway & Review: Five Blank Pages.

After seven years and three albums—2004's Spaces to Occupy and Abandon, 2007's full-length Last Blush, and the new Young Glow EP—Toronto-by-way-of-Brampton band Five Blank Pages are calling it quits. The two remaining original members Noyan Hilmi and his wife Pinar Ozyetis reunite with their former drummer (Noyan’s sister Chelen, helping out on the kit but mostly singing backup; Michael Reles is the band's current drummer) and bassist (Rajiv Thavanathan) to play their final show on Saturday, 23 May, at the Mod Club. Also serving as a CD release party for Young Glow, the show will be opened by up-and-coming popsters Boys Who Say No, and Rajiv’s main band these days, Oh No Forest Fires. Five Blank Pages will be joined on stage by many special guest musicians who will no doubt give the band’s warm, melodic pop-rock tunes the treatment they deserve. I was at FBP’s last CD release show, and can attest to the specialness of the extra live instrumentation. This will be a great evening of local music, starting with the completely bop-able BWSN and the semi-spazzy pop of ONFF, and ending with a fitting celebration of a group of great musicians and wonderful people.

And what about that new record, you ask?

The EP opens with a slightly unsettling keyboard melody that right away signals that this new recording is a bit of a departure for the band. And, as it turns out, the melancholic mood on Last Blush’s standout track, "Marrow," is all over this album. In the full-length, "Marrow" seemed oddly placed among happier songs, but looking back—and now with Young Glow in my music player—I see where the mood fits.

The first track, “Stem Skin & Pit,” isn’t the Canadiana comfort rock-pop that I expected. (I guess I wasn’t paying attention to the title.) Fast-paced drumming, synced up boy-girl vocals, quick time signature changes, and a slow-but-rocking guitar part midway through builds on other musical layers. “To No One” shines the vocal spotlight once again equally on Pinar as it does Noyan, and the mood is subdued here, too. There’s a sense of urgency, apprehension, but finally comes acceptance. The song’s last minute and a bit is a stark change. We’ve moved forward, not having forgotten the earlier worries, but having come to terms with them. Noyan takes us back to more familiar ground on “Cardigan,” but the album’s mood remains consistent. This tune reminds me a little of the Rural Alberta Advantage’s calmer moments. In other words, strong vocal, keyboard, and drum lines combine for a somewhat melancholic air. The electric guitar takes centre stage later on, and when the backing vocals come in we’re back at hopeful acceptance. Pinar’s Rebekah Higgs / Megan Hamilton-esque vocals are one of the album’s strengths. This is something else I hadn’t expected from FBP, but it’s a happy treat for me. The juxtaposition between the sweet, sustained singing and the heavy rock instrumentation on “What an Ending” bring the EP to a close. What an ending, indeed.

Download: Five Blank Pages, “Marrow” (Last Blush, 2007).
Download: Five Blank Pages, “Stem Skin & Pit” (Young Glow, 2009).

Courtesy of Five Blank Pages and Over the Top Festival, I’ve got a pair of tickets to the show on 23 May and a copy of the new album to give away to one lucky person. In addition, the band’s letting me give away a digital download of the EP. If you want a chance to win the tickets/CD, email me at historyjenATgmailDOTcom with “FBP, ONFF, BWSN” in the subject line (ha! sorry), and get that to me by 11:59pm on Thursday, 21 May. The show’s all ages and relatively early, so anyone with plans to be in Toronto that evening can enter. For a chance to win the digital download, email me with “I want the Young Glow” in the subject line (ha! groan). Same deadline, but this time anyone, anywhere in the world can enter. In each case I’ll need your full name in the body of the email. Good luck!

Here’s to you, FBP! You were one of the first bands that I latched onto when I started going to shows a couple years ago. Thanks for the memories, and good luck with everything that comes next.

Fine Print: The Over the Top Festival presents Five Blank Pages (final show / CD release) w/Oh No Forest Fires and Boys Who Say No @ The Mod Club, 6:30pm, $12 ($10 in adv). All ages. (This one will be over by 10pm, so no straggling!)

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