By Glen Erickson
EDMONTON – The musical ‘duo’ holds an underrated place in rock and pop history. It’s a unique and distinct interchange in songwriting and performance, set apart from a solo artist or band. But, you protest! Simon & Garfunkel, Hall & Oates, Wham!… so perhaps their relative underrated feel is debatable, but if you fast forward to 2017, you’ll see very few duos entering the market. This makes the first full-length release by Edmonton’s Goldtop all the more interesting.
Goldtop is the Edmonton electro-rock duo comprised of indie veteran Everett LaRoi and Alice Kos. Commonly mistaken for a couple, LaRoi admits, “we have a little fun with that fact with the crowd sometimes.”
Both are happily married; Kos notably to Mark Davis, co-founder of Old Reliable, a band responsible for carving out the alt-country genre in this province. Davis played a major influence in the making of the duo’s first official release, if only due to his large vintage synth and drum machine collection falling into the hands of Kos and LaRoi. Aided by this collection, the band has found true musical harmony on their debut album, You Possess Me. Although formed in 2012, it has been a journey of songwriting, performing, and gathering their influences to arrive at this collection of nine songs.
“We stumbled into the duo-with-drum-machine/sampler format while playing some Eastern Canadian tour dates with the great unknown American songwriter Marvin Etzioni,” LaRoi explains.
“This first album shows us exploring sonic ideas within that format.”
The laundry list of influences for this recording is fascinating. LaRoi traces his roots back to Idyl Tea, one of the few indie-pop hopefuls out of Edmonton in the ‘80s. Kos cites a range of everything from the Everly Brothers, Psychedelic Furs and Split Enz, to more recent works by the Raveonettes. There is an inescapable presence of lo-fi pioneers Low, a comparison they hear often and are very comfortable with, due to the sparse arrangements and the echoing timbre of LaRoi’s vocals.
The duo has created a seriously cohesive record, effortlessly blending light, echoed vocals, layered over persistent guitar riffs and simple, effective keypads and beats.
“All of our collaboration on this album has been about instrumentation and arrangements. We’ve only recently started co-writing, and I think that makes sense,” clarifies Kos. On You Possess Me, the duo wrote all but the title track, which was an offering by their friend Etzioni. That track was penned by their pal Etzioni in 1993 in honour of American singer-songwriter Maria McKee, who famously penned the song “If Love Was a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags). So why use his song for the band’s own uses?
LaRoi joyously quips, McKee was “my secret imaginary girlfriend.”
You Possess Me was released on July 21. The release party will be hold at The Needle Vinyl Tavern on August 6 (Edmonton) with guests Marvin Etzioni.Debut, Goldtop, Marvin Etzioni, The Needle Vinyl Tavern, You Possess Me