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Flophouse Jr. | Woodland (Independent)
As is detailed elsewhere in this issue, there is some thrilling stuff coming out of Canada at the moment, the epicentre, at least for alt. Country, being Vancouver. Woodland, the debut of the city's Palace Flophouse offshoot, Flophouse Jr, is another absolute corker. On a budget of around $3, Jon Wood, Susan Young and Andy Geluk have crafted ten gentle songs of intelligence and grace that have found their local music hacks rummaging through thesauruses in search of new words for gorgeous. Six thousand miles away, this one too, is very impressed. Woodland was recorded to analogue 4-track in Jon's East Vancouver apartment, using only junk-shop instruments and two heartbreaking voices. Despite the primitive conditions, I've heard albums recorded over three years, in half a dozen global studios, with producers for each track, that have less clarity than this sparkling album. It's creaky-porch-rocking-chair-campfire-melancholy-Country-Pop, before you ask. An impeccable grasp of sonic economy, masterful song writing and arrangements that border on genius, make Flophouse Jr an awesome prospect. I'm not exaggerating here. Think of Wagon's Broken Lines ?? how beautiful and soulful a song is that? Now imagine ten songs that are that lovely, all in one place; that's Woodland. Highlights? Too many to mention - Pray For Rain is the purest pop-blast I've heard in a while, and centrepiece Sorry Alibi, gliding along on languid banjo, is simply breathtaking. Without any doubt, this is the best banjo album since everything by 16 Horsepower. I could rant on all day about why you need Woodland, but truth be told, this is something of an obscurity, and could be tough to track down. Trust me, it is worth gargantuan efforts to do so. If it proves just too elusive, contact Flophouse Jr at or write to them at 2549 Woodland Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5N 3P4, Canada.

Tom Sheriff
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001