Here's One Of The Best Velvet Underground-Inspired Albums of the Year by David Ball

Frank Zappa once said: “Never stop until your good becomes better, and your better becomes the best.” Well, 10-years and counting into a prolific underground indie career, Purple Hill’s better has become best with the release of Top 40 Radio Memory Dream (Oh Yeah!).

Truth is, the latest offering hatched from the unusual mind of svengali frontman Owen Marchildon (former bassist from the late great math rock outfit From Fiction) isn’t much different than his Toronto quartet’s string of stellar LPs that unabashedly channel, and nail, Loaded-era Velvet Underground and noisy three-chord garage rock.

But this 10-song collection bests all, even 2011’s acclaimed low-fi gem Bring On The Macho, mainly because it’s more cohesive and accessible; helping matters is that it’s packed with at least six radio-friendly tracks including the joyous slice of '80s dream pop “Being Young (Like It’s So Far Behind), the obviously VU-inspired “I’ve Been Listening To Nico”, and rootsy standout single “Six String All To My Heart”, the latter evoking the Byrds-esque psychedelic-country spirit of Purple Hill’s 2005 debut EP and 2009’s Beechnut Street.
Still, newfound accessibility doesn’t mean Marchildon has turned in his crazy calling-card just yet. The prolific singer/guitarist’s vivid and sparsely subversive lyrics remain Purple Hill’s most compelling and funny feature, and this effort is no exception: Highly personalized true stories that manically flip between celebrating everyday slices of life (guilt by eating too much junk food on the mid-tempo power-pop opener “Sweat Out The Take Out”) to occasional fits of lunacy (being driven mad by bedbugs on the suped-up VU rocker “I Am Ripe”).
The live-off-the-floor, one-or-two-takes-and-it-is-a-wrap approach (with a few overdubs), was captured by Jeff McMurrich (Constantines, Danko Jones), a wise decision by the revered engineer and producers Purple Hill, since the warts-and-all, 35-minute recording, comes off like a raw live album featuring a fearless band swinging for the fences.
Don’t be surprised if you find Top 40 Radio Memory Dream (Oh Yeah!) on a few year-end “Best Of” lists. Heck, “Six String All To My Heart” should even garner spins on radio outside of the usual college variety.
Are you listening, Indie88? You should be.



David Ball is a Toronto-based freelance writer, long-time reviewer and quasi music historian for the late great SoundProof Magazine and past contributor to Along with submitting occassional articles for Little Red Umbrella, David also writes for the US-based horror, sci-fi, cult website, Rabid Doll.


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