Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
Our galaxy, or at least our small corner of the Milky Way galaxy, is an old maid at this point. She's got a hacking, chain-smoker's cough and a potbelly, though she can write it off as genetics and issues beyond her control. She's raised a planet of gluttons and wasteful dickheads (note to self: the Live Earth ballyhooing was last week, but this dead horse still needs beating) and the irreversible physical deformities are worse than those of Kenny Rogers and Donatella Versace combined and to the nth degree.
Against her will, we've made her a disgusting mess. We'd all like to upgrade, wouldn't we, to something very similar to this galaxy we've already made home, but perhaps find one with a better body, a little more space, a quieter neighborhood, fewer catastrophic weather events, cleaner air and less humidity. Something with a new smell to it, but ultimately very similar to what we have. It's a shameful thing to use a use a band's name to springboard into analysis and rumination about their art, but if you stick with the flowery build-up, this one just might work. An old galaxy and a new galaxy share a distinguishing characteristic. Like it or not, believe it or not, every galaxy consists of 90-percent dark matter.
The numbers, to the decimal points, obviously can vary, but give or take, we're talking about a lot of the dark stuff and with all of that out there, it's not surprising that we ingest some of it. As the porous beings that we are, there are millions upon millions of little openings - smaller than pin pricks - through which all of this dark matter can enter our skim, worm into our bloodstreams and hijack our insides and get them to dance a slow one.
Montreal's Young Galaxy is a harbinger of concentrated dark matter launching a smooth attack into everywhere. Lead singers Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless love themselves those sad songs that ache from the inside-out. The band's eponymous debut on Arts & Crafts is wallpapered with notions of struggle and the forbearance of happy conclusions. Planes are falling out of skies, suns are falling out of skies - life is a battle, peeps, treat it that way. The pain of it all deserves reverence as Ramsay embraces the droning atmosphere that is non-negotiable.
The record is a trove of lost sentiments - the kind that leave behind a sticky residue that just won't rinse away no matter how much you scrub. When living's been a battle once, even when improvements occur, there remains the devilish observer in the back of the brain that sits panting, just waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's a little bastard, sure, but it's there and there's no getting rid of it. Ramsay sings of the nagging difficulties in love that pry a person into halves - the one half that wants to be happy and move along and the second half that knows it's not going to happen anytime soon. For the record, a change of scenery would be cosmetic. That which is old can be new again in the bat of a lash. Ramsay and McCandless are professors of this way of thinking. To battle the dark matter is a never-ending war. Good luck and take good care of your feet.
The Daytrotter interview:
*How's your hand? How'd you break it?*
Stephen Ramsay: It's healing nicely, thank you. I'm ashamed to say it was an act of rock. Done completely sober. I smashed my fist on my guitar pedals to add a real "I mean it man!" emphasis. Apparently no one saw because we were completely engulfed in smoke from our smoke machine, Young Galaxy's unofficial 7th member.
*Did you find some nice parks along your routes?*
SR: I LOVE Zion National Park in Utah. Breathtaking. We didn't make it this time, but I will go out of my way to end up there again. We also went to Big Sur on the 101 in California. Amazing, but not an advisable drive with a van and trailer. A little hairy...
*Besnard Lakes -- one of the best bands in the world? Yes or no and explain your reasoning.*
SR: Damn straight they are. They're couple-core! I have been too close to them for too long to explain why. Just go see them or buy their record. You'll see...
*What's the last thing to amaze you?*
SR: The sunset in high humidity in Montreal. It's so psychedelic and apocalyptic -- it just blows my mind every time. It actually fucks me up.
* Has your Daytrotter shirt shrunk to an unwearable size?*
*How much astrologist do you have in you?*
SR: Not as much as Japanese interviewers think.
*What's your relationship to the band Stars? How is it possible that there's no relationship to the Broken Social Scene? Or is there....?*
SR: Torquil, one of their singers, is married to a very good friend of mine. We used to hang out in Vancouver when they weren't on tour. Eventually I managed to ingratiate myself to them enough that they offered me a job. Of course we have a relationship with BSS -- Kevin Drew owns our label! But we didn't grow up in Toronto, so in comparison to most of the crew YG is a relative outsider. I don't think our band has ever even met them yet! Fine with us, we like playing in the shadows...
*When did you write the line, "Life's not a rehearsal"? What were you thinking?*
SR: I was thinking, "I hope no one will know I ripped this off".
*Name one instance in your life when you wish it had been.*
SR: I wish I had taken that university volleyball scholarship in Southern California. Too late though, I'd already discovered drugs... Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had found the beautiful Malaysian girl who pulled me from the sea during that moonlit shipwreck years ago...
*Who was the last famous person you wrote off as a loser but later impressed you with a piece of work? Be specific if you can.*
SR: Hmmm...that rarely happens! I hear Mandy Moore's new album shows a new found maturity... I used to hate Shaquille O'Neal but now I think he's a dude. Did you know he's a fully legit child care police officer in Miami in the off season? That's wicked.