Friday, May 3, 2013

Tegan and Sara - The Con Demos

And further down the rabbit hole I go, taking my obsession with Tegan and Sara into new territories, and yes, that includes locating the Record Store Day exclusive Closer remix album on Ebay for a reasonable price (some were priced without consulting what fans were actually willing to pay) and, in the process, coming across a limited edition release for the demos to 2007’s The Con in a cardboard package released during some dates of the supporting tour.

Buy It Now Price? Too high to mention.

Which is when an MP3 version of the same package was noticed on a major retail site with a price point of below ten bones, which is much more reasonable given the disposable package of the physical version.
Personal obsessions and fandom aside, the real reason for my interest resides in the emotive power that Tegan and Sara created for The Con’s proper release. It’s an album where the dark themes are wonderfully painted with bright pop elements, giving the impression that the sisters were willing to counteract the lows of the subject matter with a very unique and vibrant blend of pop music
In short, The Con reveals much more on the surface than its pop overtones suggest, a trend that continues to this day.

But here on the The Con Demos came an opportunity to hear exactly how dark things were before Chris Walla got behind the boards to help sugarcoat the proceedings.

At least, that’s what I expected with the rough mixes, so imagine my surprise when I found out that Tegan and Sara were very much in control of the forays into pop and that what Walla ended up delivering is not too far away from the sister’s original intent.

Sure, The Con Demos are rougher, there’s lots of that dry distortion that artists end up with when plugging their instruments directly into the recording unit, and much of the content is built on the sister’s history with the acoustic guitar.

“Call It Off” and “Dark Come Soon” benefit from this bare bones treatment, while a few songs feature a bit more decorations, twisting the familiar songs with a new palate all together.

“Knife Going In” features a distinctive oriental blend against the acoustic backdrop and  “Back In Your Head” takes on a completely new feel with the basic track accentuated with a mournful tack piano.

Revelatory? In some places, yes. Is it worth your additional attention? Depends. If you’re like me and this  record has proven to be both a reliable companion as well as a surprising contender for one of the best records to be released during the Oughts, then the creative process as documented in The Con Demos will be nearly as essential as the finished results.

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