Sometimes in life you start out trying to accomplish one thing but actually end up veering off to do something completely different. Or perhaps that’s just a metaphor for life for most people. Well this little life-altering snafu happened to Toronto solo artist Elliot Jarmain. Jarmain, who writes music in his spare time while he’s not studying math and physics at the University of Toronto, wanted to write songs on an acoustic guitar that he could play at open mic nights. As the story goes Jarmain recorded a song in this vein and then laid down an organ overdub and his sound morphed into the electro-indie pop which he performs under the moniker Electric Decade.
Electric Decade’s debut EP There Used to Be Rain was recorded and produced in the DIY fashion of computer-based software that is so cheap and fashionable to use these days. Now here’s where I would usually start griping about how bad the sound quality is (it’s not awful) or just how the drum tracks all sound exactly the same (eh there’s some variety in there) or that There Used to Be Rain sounds exactly like ninety-nine percent of the stuff that most bands today that use computer software to record sound like. Well it doesn’t. Each track, though not always brilliant, shines with variation and reeks of passion.
The opening tune “(K)nights” is a hazy and somewhat jazzy guitar-centric groove with mild electronics finger snapping drums. Jarmain doubles up his vocal tracks, evenly paces his vocals and puts in a lovely piecemeal guitar solo that sounds as though it showed up like an uninvited guest but ended up being pretty cool after all. Next up on the bouncy lo-fi piano-guitar driven “The Isolator” he once again uses lo-fi to his advantage and ends up with something that sounds like a cross-dress rehearsal between The Cars and Pavement. This Pavement playfulness and some lovely Beatlesque harmonies comes through even more on the ultra-catchy alt-country “Don't Shoot Me, Henrietta?!.”
Though nothing’s, as they say, perfect, and There Used to Be Rain isn’t without its flaws, namely the spastic one off “Random Jargon Art Floss,” which sounds like an old car that has the body of a classic but the inside needs a lot of work. Then there’s the quiet and clean closer “If You Only Knew,” the song that sounds like the kind someone would perform at a solo acoustic open mic night; the kind that sounds like everything else.
Despite what I found flawed with There Used to Be Rain I still really enjoyed listening to it. I think Jarmain has a lot of talent and is able to use computer recording equipment in his favor. Music has its learning curves and I think that Jarmain is way ahead of it. I look forward to hearing the next batch of songs from Electric Decade. Until then There Used to Be Rain will be on heavy rotation
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