CD Review: WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT
By: Dan Brisebois
For several years Sugakane was heralded by many as Alberta’s next big thing, releasing a pair of albums and subsequent videos in the mid 00s. They shared the stage with the likes of The Tea Party, Randy Bachman, Wide Mouth Mason, Nazareth, Andrew W.K, The Headstones, Danko Jones, Lennon Murphy, and 54-40, among others.
From the ashes of their demise following a name ownership dispute with an American band of the same name, rises Vela. The band is Alex and Nyles Varughese, vocalist Andrew Misle and bassist Tyler Wollman – the nucleus that had made Sugakane a success, along with new drummer James Stoddard. Their debut album WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT was released in the fall of 2007, and in many ways is as drastic a sound shift as you can get. Know the history – and a natural progression is evident.
The guys made their way to Spicewood, Texas with Big Sugar‘s Gordie Johnson to record the album at Willie Nelson’s studio. Johnson brought to the production table his years of experience, and the result is just short of being a production masterpiece.
The ominously enchanting “The Rise of Falco,” and “The Will of Flaco” are like the front and back covers to a collection of stories and emotions. “St. Jude” is a haunting tale that features almost a battle between hard piano chords and guitar prowess. “Resurrection” is easily one of the sleeper hits of the year, with a driving intro that gives way to a solid structure base. Like “I’ll Be There,” the two share a progressive underground background that is .
The piano takes front stage again on “Drunk” and “Waiting To Fall,” both typical of the record, relies on introspective lyrics backed by an ambience – nearly hypnotizing sound. “Is There Anybody Out There?” is the anthemic chant of a lost love found once again. “Fade Runner” contains one of the slicker guitar duo riffs on the record, and “Tell It To The One You Love” is the power ballad on the record, written with emotion and soulfully sung. “Bullet” and “Devil’s Poetry” are the most straight-forward, no nonsense rocker. A pounding back beat lends to frantic guitar work with a piano underlay.
Vela called it quits in the summer of 2008, less than a year after the release of their debut. Each member has gone on to other projects, including Alex Varughese’s latest project, Lex Justice.