Remembering Memoryhouse

Author: 
Fred Hawley

Memoryhouse immediately left behind simple and quiet for a big, atmospheric sound.  Their best songs opened with synths and light drums then built to guitar riffs over a wall of sound.  

Last weekend I went to see Memoryhouse with Seapony and Jay Arner at the Waldorf. It was a great show! Memoryhouse is a band from Guelph, Ontario getting tons of hype on big-deal blogs like Pitchfork and Stereogum, and yet the show felt small and personal.

The first band was Jay Arner (and his unnamed band), who is one half of the dance-pop duo Fine Mist, as well as contributing to about a million other bands.  For this project he’s moved away from the drum machines and synths of Fine Mist for jangly guitars and a real live drummer in Rose Melberg! 

Rose Melberg may be better known for her voice in the twee pop bands Tiger Trap, The Softies and Go Sailor; but she’s awesome on drums too.  In all of his projects, Arner brings a pop sensibility that stars in his music as just Jay Arner and was carried on into Seapony’s set through the bands’ shared members.

Seapony cleaned up the jangling guitars and loose drum beats for a tighter sound that reflected the restraint in the lyrics and vocals.  Seapony were everything that is twee: they were sweet, pretty, and nice. 

The songs were short and sugary, and reflected on simple feelings of love. The singer seemed to project a hazy disconnect with the lyrics, lending a sense of depth to their simple themes. The guitar then filled in the light sound with surfy guitar lines that brought some pace to the instrumentation and was kept otherwise minimalist with soft bass lines and efficient, drum machine style beats. 

The sound changed on the last song when Rose Melberg stepped out from behind the drum kit to do a cover of the song Emma’s House by the Field Mice.  The nostalgia of the song reflected the theme for all of the bands that was most visible in Memoryhouse’s set with the retro synths and projected films that were reminiscent of old VHS home movies. 

Memoryhouse immediately left behind simple and quiet for a big, atmospheric sound.  Their best songs opened with synths and light drums then built to guitar riffs over a wall of sound.  The vocals followed along similar lines to those of Beach House, often drifting off to allow the guitar to the front of the sound before building to big choruses in a cacophony of cymbals and echoing synths.

The band began as a collaborative project that combined music with visual art, and this has stuck with their live music in projected film backgrounds that fitted the music with hazy films of a man swimming and drifting mountain scenery.  They finished with a cover of the lightest and danciest Police song, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” which was fitting for a show of bands that all showed a wonderful appreciation for pop music.

  • Posted on: 12 April 2016
  • By: Administrator
  • Author: Fred Hawley