CKUA CD of the Week
A 15-year-veteran of the Alberta Music scene, Shuyler Jansen is probably most well known as one of the front men of the roots band Old Reliable. On Hobotron, Jansen, with his bandana bundle full of country songs, hops a train and heads off into the land of synthesizers and space movie sounds. The combination of these two traditionally disparate genres may cause purists from both genres to shudder, but the effects are not industrial and hard. Using old synthesizers, guitar pedals, electronic toys, and ethereal female vocals, Jansen took pains to create sounds soft and organic which meld with his rootsy vocals. Each track seamlessly moves into the next resulting in an album best listened all the way through rather than a song or two at a time.
The stories told on Hobotron are distinctively country depicting men betrayed, in love, at war, and stuck in no good jobs and demonstrate Jansen’s talent and maturity as a songwriter. “Write Your Will” is Jansen’s song of a “cheater and a thief in a northern town” with the catchy chorus “I bit the bullet.” Saxophone from Shawn “Swifty” Jonasson starts off “Beverly Ave” a song of hard luck stories of those who don’t fit in with the “nine to five.” “Street Heart Beat” has a haunting sweetness owing in part to Oh Susanna’s soft vocals and the electronic soundscape Jansen creates. Veering towards the down home side of the tracks, Hobotron demonstrates how the two opposing genres can coincide to create beautiful sounds. Shuyler Jansen has created a unique and very enjoyable new album.
Hobotron is wandering across the country on a very impressive tour. For those who may have missed the southern Alberta dates in late November, Jansen will be performing in Alberta on Dec. 23 and on New Year’s Eve with the Swiftys.