When The Dears lineup collapsed after recording Missiles, I was wondering, as I am sure many other were, what would happen to some of the other members. Most notably, guitarist Patrick Krief.
Well, Black Diamond Bay is what happened. After putting out an EP under the name Krief, he assembled a band for live shows, but after touring for a while, he decided they "couldn’t justify not having a name for that sound." Joined by Krief's cousin, Andre Bendahan on bass and Roberto Piccioni on keys, the band also includes another ex-Dear, drummer George Donoso III.
It would be easy to liken the album to The Dears; to call Krief the "white Murray Lightburn"; to pass them off as a side project or spinoff band. Especially since half the band is former members. And under the guidance of a lesser musician, maybe that would be the case. But Patrick Krief has stepped up and proven himself to be as good a song writer as he is a guitarist.
The ten tracks on Calm Awaits are moody & layered when they need to be, yet at other times, a swirling sonic wall of guitars. And with the occasional jazzy and/or blues influence, their sound seems to be ever evolving, even throughout the coarse of a single album. Though there is always a natural flow, with songs growing as you would expect them to. Never disjointed or out of place.
The album starts off calm, and maybe a little ominous, with Mother's Arms, which builds to controlled ending before What We Want kicks things up a bit and Brothers In Exile erupts out of the speakers. Blue Mace slows things down again as a superb piano and strings number and leads to the heartbreaking and emotional First Time I See You Again. New Soldier keeps up the energy while Calm Awaits starts off soft and delicate then just completely loses it and explodes at the end. Weekend War is another song that just keeps getting more and more intense until the explosive finish. Murcury is another beautiful, piano driven one, which climaxes in a fantastic guitar solo and which would have made an excellent album closer, if The Wrath of Your Darkness didn't follow with its moody and almost dark, yet somehow just a little optimistic, finish.
The odd thing about the album, though, it that it is less a compliment to their live performances and more a contrast. While on stage they are a little more raw and visceral, the album is a bit more... delicate. It takes the time to explore the lush arrangements, and has a few more instruments & guest stars. Like Liam O'Neil (of The Stills) and Evan Cranley (of Stars & Broken Social Scene) on horns. This doesn't make either the live show or the album any better or worse than the other, just... different. In the end, Calm Awaits is a fantastic debut album, and may even end up in the running as one of my favourites of the year.
Download Brothers In Exile
Download First Time I See You Again