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CD REVIEW

Wintersleep “Welcome to the Night Sky”

by Shawn Despres

Wintersleep is the latest buzz band to emerge from Canada’s fertile underground scene. This third studio effort, “Welcome to the Night Sky,” recently netted the Halifax-based quintet Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy Awards) nods for Best New Group and Best Alternative Album.

“Welcome to the Night Sky” has reportedly been a target for the U.S. majors as well, and it’s easy to see why. Produced by Tony Doogan (Belle and Sebastian), the disc strikes a solid balance between commercial cuts and more challenging, spiky indie rock.

Frontman Paul Murphy’s strong baritone has always resembled Eddie Vedder’s, making “Archaeologist” sound akin to one of Pearl Jam’s mellower rockers, while the dark, gorgeous piano ballad “Dead Letter & the Infinite Yes” could pass for Coldplay (in a less annoying incarnation). If those tracks teeter on the edge of mainstream FM rock, the slow-building, intricate “Murderer” and Broken Social Scene-ish closer “Miasmal Smoke & The Yellow Bellied Freaks,” with its anthemic vocals and wonderfully jumbled instrumentation, should satisfy indie heads.

Wintersleep performs at Shibuya Cyclone, Tokyo on Feb. 24 and 25.