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Canyon - Empty Rooms

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Artist: Canyon

Album: Empty Rooms

Label: Gern Blandsten

Review date: Nov. 27, 2002

Remembering Rooms

It is so easy to become cynical about rock music these days. Look left, then right and you’ll see bands with no shame in the derivative. This is not to say that being derivative is a trend; it’s something that has existed in the realms of pop/rock since the beginning. However, it’s more fashionable now than ever. It’s almost as if bands don’t care anymore. At least those Velvet Underground records were out of print when the Dream Syndicate recorded The Days of Wine & Roses. That was a different time and place, nonetheless, it’s a good reference point because, like the Dream Syndicate, Canyon is just a band; no frills, no rocket science – just a band whose five members come together to create some very reflective and melancholic rock ‘n’ roll.

We've all been in the empty rooms before, so when singer Brandon Butler belts out “So just remember when you’re going out / realize your hearts been hangin’ out / getting’ drunk and fallin’down...When you’re goin’ home / You realize it’s alright bein’ alone…” on “Other Shore,” he’s singing about a pain all too familiar – something we’ve all experienced and felt; the emptiness of a room that was once filled with love and hope, now desolate save for some dirty napkins and the cigarette butts stamped out on the floor.

Throughout eleven cuts, Canyon tells stories more personal and emotional than a Promise Ring diary entry. Stories of loneliness, pain, touring, and the awkward moment when you realize your life is fucked up beyond repair. Now, couple this with a musical landscape that recalls the paranoid psychedelia of Jeff Buckley’s live sets, After the Goldrush-era Neil Young, and R.E.M.’s finer moments, and you have the formula for a potent document of personal struggle.

Really, at a time when so many bands are storming the Factory and overdosing on Gang of Four PIL’s, you can count on Canyon to give you dusty tales of real life’s hardships. A record, of such common personal accounts, that will speak to fans of all ages and generations.

By Stephen Sowley

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