Zwerg Played Wits

Definitely the most interesting thing to come out of Atlantic Canada that I've ever heard. While I'm sure many people assume everyone in Moncton must listens to Sonic Youth and play distorted indie-rock, Zwerg proves that there is a lot more going on. Zwerg is the project of a certain Eldon Thiele, aka Jason Betts, who is known for being a prolific pianist and occasional actor in his native Moncton. On his first full-length album, To Myopic Mutts, he enlisted the help of fellow citizen Rick White, of the Eric's Trip/Elevator lineage - although the influence was not noticeable. Instead of rocking out, this album honed in on his skills as a singer and songwriter, with most of the sound attributed to Betts and his piano. Things take a sharp right turn with Played Wits, which features a heavy presence from synthesisers, effects and electronics. Perhaps he was listening to a lot of early synth-pop, or the recent work from artists like Stephen Merritt (Magnetic Fields, etc.), Momus or Barcelona, who have finally removed the shame from the world of well-produced, electronic-based, intelligent pop music. The rise of indie labels like March or Le Grand Magistery alone are proof of this. If that weren't enough, his smooth voice reminds me of '80s pop star Nik Kershaw. The album's ten tracks are all solid efforts and clock in at longer than average times, which allow Betts the room to explore all the sounds he has in his head. While the goofy, programmed nature of this record will be hard for many to swallow, at least it's not predictable. (Waspy Mic Mac)