Test Tone Channel Orbital Slaves

When Test Tone Channel released their Running For Words debut on Matlock Records back in 2000, it was clear that the east coast had produced yet another smart pop band to latch onto. But after a little attention surrounding that release, it seemed the band had dropped off the face of the earth. Close to three years later, TTC are back as a trio, offering up this 14-track nugget. Originally recording their follow-up with keyboard player Chastity Alward, the band scrapped the recordings after Alward left the band, going back to the drawing board to record and release Orbital Slaves independently. Less abstract then their debut, Orbital Slaves is pop music at its finest. With a left-of-centre penchant for melody and a jazzy sway, the record is full of unconventional hooks and informed musicianship. Sometimes the lyrics leave a little to the imagination but the plain-language narrative style is easily forgivable as a familiar trait in pop's "everyman" songwriting style. Their drummer is especially notable on this release, flipping sometimes straightforward parts into a rhythmic spin that could put most rock drummers to shame. A lot of people have probably forgotten about TTC by now but Orbital Slaves definitely deserves attention for its bold revamping of Canadian pop music. (Matlock)