Posted by: will | December 23, 2006

Chad VanGaalen…


Chad VanGaalen “Skelliconnection” (Sub Pop)

Buy it at Insound!

Frankly, I have no idea why I have not reviewd Skelliconnection yet. It’s an album that came out four months ago and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed and immersed myself in. Chad VanGaalen is a unique singer/songwriter from Calgary. VanGaalen’s styles and inspiration are all over the map but it is folk and indie rock he seems to pull from the most.

VanGaalen writes some downright beautiful songs like the album opener “Sing Me To Sleep” and the lyrically creepy “Graveyard”. His slower more folk-based songs are like some beautiful mixture of Elliott Smith and Neil Young. He throws in some weird instrumental numbers and more rock material as well. Songs like “Red Hot Drops” which starts out as just a drum machine hip-hop beat with Vangaalen’s soft vocals, ends up as something straight out of Beck‘s past material. Then Vangaalen follows it up with “Wind Driving Dogs” which is a soulful country-influenced song. “Burn To Ash” is a nice straight-forward lo-fi pop song. Skelliconnection is also home to one of my favorite songs of 2006. “Dead End” is an absolutely gorgeous track that showcases Vangaalens’s amazing vocal range. It reminds me of Roy Orbison and that’s impressive to say the least. You can tell that all the songs were probably recorded in different places and at different times. Because of this Skelliconnection is a wildly eclectic and often schizophrenic mixture of sounds. But somehow it all comes together and actually works rather well.

In researching VanGaalen it sure seemed like I was finding a lot of people who have dismissed him. I imagine it is the same types who dismiss songwriters like Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices for being too inconsistent. It’s too bad because they are missing out on some truly imaginative songwriting and some brilliant songs along the way. Will you have to wade through a few awkward numbers here and there? Sure, but isn’t it worth it in the end? I surely think so.

RIYL: Neil Young, Elliott Smith, Beck


Chad Vangaalen – Dead Ends (mp3)

Chad Vangaalen – Graveyard (mp3)


  1. […] comes from Chad Vangaalen’s excellent 2006 album Skelliconnection which I reviewed here. The album was good enough to make my Best New Music […]

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