Edmonton, Alberta does not register on most people’s “must-see travel” destinations. Most only know about the city because of West Edmonton Mall, which at one time was the largest mall on earth (that distinction now belongs to Mall of America in Minnesota). It is also the city whose hockey team had the audacity to trade Wayne Gretzky. Topping that was the “Gateway to the North” showed even more gumption by calling itself the City of Champions in the early ’80s when the Oilers and Eskimos ruled the National Hockey League and Canadian Football League, respectively.
What people may not know is that Edmonton is a burgeoning music scene. Trailing only Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, the Alberta capital is the leading producer of Canadian independent artists and bands. Mac DeMarco, Purity Ring, Michael Rault, Faith Healer, Marlaena Moore, and Cord Lund are just some of the names coming from this unexpected music factory. Add Jesse & The Dandelions to this eclectic and talented group.
Like these artists, Jesse & The Dandelions have their own distinctive sound. Their music is a blend of spacey, psychedelic pop and dreamy chamber pop. It is music that makes you smile. Music that warms the soul and adds sunshine to even the dreariest of days. Just in time for the long weekend, the quartet are sharing their sophomore album, True Blue, which we are immensely pleased to premiere.
True Blue is a gem of an album that radiates with the blissful sounds of the ’70s. It is pleasantly quirky and amusing, yet also thoughtful and touching. “Brother”, for instance, is surprisingly remorseful, but the psychedelic pop melodies leave you in a content state. “No Fun” is charming yet sincere (the video is a classic) while “Wishful Thinking” may be a hip-shaking number but it, too, is reflective. “True Blue” has a Lennon-esque mystique, as lyrically and musically one becomes completely enchanted.
Hear the entire album below. But before you hit play, please do not operate any heavy machinery. Make sure you are seated and your seat belt is tightly fastened because Jesse & The Dandelions’ True Blue will leave you levitate your body, mind, and soul. The album is a wonderful trip.
Read the track-by-track commentary provided by Jesse Northey below. The video for “No Fun” is also provided. If you enjoy what you hear, catch the band on tour, which just kicked off last night in Edmonton. They will spend much of September in Western Canada before taking their tour East in October. Dates are below.
TRACK-BY-TRACK COMMENTARY OF TRUE BLUE BY JESSE NORTHEY
“In The Night” – This track was an experiment to try and push the limit a little bit. It features Nathan Wong on the strings, and he did a wicked job. I kind of desecrated it with my dirty guitar over the top, but I think it was worth it. I wasn’t sure if it would end up clicking, but in the last minute it seemed to sit well. The song acts as an overture, giving people a bit of an overview as to what they are getting into. It’s a song about whether or not you’ll take the plunge when opportunity knocks.
“No Fun” – This is a song about being a star and if it’s even all that great once you get there. We did a pretty funny, figure-skating music video to this song too! I was trying to emulate parts of MGMT’s “Siberian Breaks” with some of the synth sounds and strings. It’s fairly linear and jumps to all sorts of different parts which I love. I like trying to see where I can bring a song and still keep it melodic and musical.
“Wishful Thinking” – This song had many iterations! It started out more melodic in the verses with more chords, but I decided it needed more rhythm and to be less sweet. We ended up making a loop out of some old breakbeats and using that as our template. Beck was a bit of an inspiration for this track. It’s fun to build with rhythm tracks as the core because I think it inherently breeds different types of songs than songs you would write on an acoustic guitar. The solo at the end is also fun! I harmonized the solo with a distorted vocal mic, and it ended up sounding really neat.
“True Blue” – I’m super proud of how this one turned out. It’s a pretty simple song melodically, but the chords are all over place. This is one where I tried to keep a melodic thread going throughout while the rest of the song changes a whole lot. Lyrically, it’s mostly asking the question if someone is the real deal and if they are truly worth fighting for. To date, I think it’s one of my strongest songs. I actually wrote half of it in a theatre while watching Hunger Games. I had to run out and record the vocal melody for the chorus into my phone. When inspiration hits…..
“North Star” – This is another song that features Nathan on strings. We tried to go for classic rock grandiose, like “Starman” with an orchestral budget. Nobody records with full orchestras in a rock-and-roll setting anymore because they can’t afford it or it’s too cheesy. I was happy to give it a shot. I don’t mind being cheesy if I’m sincere. It almost cancels itself out and is good to go! The lyrical content talks about being a star again and how there are people in every town who could make the cut.
“Bad Guy” – Sometimes you just can’t catch a break and you’ll always come out looking like the bad guy. This song is so hard to play live, but I love all the drop beats and janky changes. I tried to go pretty classic sounding with this track, and I think we nailed it while still remaining pretty contemporary.
“Brother” – Piano leads the way in this track! It was the first song that I wrote on the piano that the band actually performs. There are some strong The Beatles/Spoon vibes with this one but I couldn’t be prouder of it. I feel it sounds modern and classic at the same time and is so fun to play. It gets to be both boppy and heavy at the same time. Lyrically it talks about becoming a stranger to yourself and those around you.
“Underwater” – Would they save you if you were drowning? This song is weird, but I really like it. We tried to keep it pretty ethereal and melancholy. A lot of soft synths did the trick! It has a bit of a throwback to “True Blue” (song) as well with the chord changes/picking pattern/lyrical content. It serves the purpose of the pretty last song on the record that recapitulates some of the themes. I really like how the vocal harmonies turned out at the end too. It’s a real treat!
JESSE & THE DANDELIONS // UPCOMING TOUR DATES
- September 8 – Medicine Hat, AB – Captain’s Cabin Pub
- September 9 – Lethbridge, AB – The Owl
- September 10 – Calgary, AB – Circle The Wagons Festival
- September 14 – Lloydminster, AB – The Root
- September 15 – Regina, SK – Dirty Nelly’s
- September 16 – Saskatoon, SK – Vangelis
- September 17 – Edmonton, AB – Art in Our Park
- September 21 – Nelson, BC – The Royal
- September 22 – Vernon, BC – Record City
- September 23 – Victoria, BC – The Copper Owl
- September 24 – Vancouver, BC – The Emerald
- October 14 – Regina, SK – The Club (Breakout West)
- October 15 – Regina, SK – The Exchange (Breakout West)
- October 20 – Hamilton, ON – The Baltimore House
- October 21 – Toronto, ON – Monarch Tavern
- October 28 – Ottawa, ON – The Rainbow
- October 29 – Montreal, QC – Le Cagibi
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