Exposé: Mobile

(from left to right: Frank Williamson, Dominic Viola, Mat Joly, Martin Lavallée, Christian Brais)
Previous name: Moonraker
Origin: Montreal, QC, Canada
Genre: alternative rock

I first heard this five-piece band on the radio 4 years ago. They had “Montreal Calling” and “Out of My Head” as singles, and were receiving considerable airplay due to the Canadian Broadcasting Act. (I’m so happy this piece of legislation is in place!) By the time “See Right Through Me” was playing, I knew I had to get the CD.

It was one of my best music-related investments that year, especially when compared to the somewhat disappointing Sam’s Town. Apparently a very good live band as well, Mobile has always amazed me with each song. They’re pop enough to be played on Virgin99.9, but rock enough for theEdge, not to mention ridiculously catchy.

Tomorrow Starts Today
(buy CAN/US on iTunes)
"Hands Tied": My favourite song by the band, simply for the innovative rhythm and percussive… err, noise prominent at the beginning that continues throughout the piece. Another thing I love about their music is the lyrics- they barely make sense until you think about them. The chorus of the track is a repeated pitch upon which “walk, walk, straight up ahead” is sung, while the bridge is reminiscent of The Edge’s guitar riffs, and makes good use of a seemingly large variety of instruments. Something about Mat Joly throaty, echoing yells really gets me in this piece.

"New York Minute": The vocals start right off the top, and the trend of attention-grabbing rhythms appears again, with a sing-a-long chorus. The drumming is quite exquisite as well; nothing particularly off-beat, polyrhythmic or overpowering, but it does change throughout very appropriately.

"Out of My Head": This is probably the song most of us have heard, the familiar “come on over” preceded by the Finger Eleven like riff. (I say Finger Eleven because everyone’s heard their song, “Paralyzer”). The echoing vocals seem to be another trait of Mobile. The lyrics are genius- “your eyes, deny me like the sun on a night sky movie screen”.

"Montreal Calling": An indie drive to it, my favourite part is the intro where the drums suddenly cut to a dial tone and the overlapping round-style pre chorus.

"See Right Through Me": I love a good piano intro, and this one definitely has it. Sometimes I find that Hamelin is pounding the unnecessary hell out of those drums, but without the syncopation, the song would sound empty and uncharacteristic.

"Lookin' Out": With the same circular vibrato as many of their other songs, the guitars and piano are the only reasons I still regularly listen to the song.

"Scars": It’s been dusting up my library. Just not as fantastic as their other stuff; all the while adding a whole new tone to their music. I definitely recommended this if you like The Killers (and are looking for similar music; because hell, I love The Killers- I just like Mobile Mobile, not so much Killers Mobile).

"Dusting Down the Stars": Man, I forgot how long this album was. Did I mention that it was as good investment? DDTS is the first ballad on the CD, showcasing Mat’s semi-falsetto which is notable and remarkably honest sounding, in my opinion. “… why are we born to fade away?”

"Tomorrow Starts Today": The title track has been recorded with one of those “fuzzy stripped" mics (very professional term, I know- I’m talking about the type of mic Adam Gontier uses at the being of “Pain”). Giving the vocals a whole different feeling and toning them down, has made Dominic Viola’s bass line more prominent and there is a bit of dance-synth in the bridge. Overall, it’s a hopeful sounding piece.

"How Can I Be Saved?”: Starting out like many pop-punk tracks we’ve been hearing as of late, the entire track stays upbeat, featuring a ridiculously repetitive yet catchy melodic idea. It’s the perfect recipe for a pop rock song.

"Lovedrug": A mellow love song without a definite description of the “you”; I like it.

"Bleeding Words": I almost wish the intro of acoustic guitar and synthesizer was just a loop. Screw the vocals for once, those instrumentals are beautiful.

Two years later, upon the release of a follow-up sophomore album, I glanced their way but obviously didn’t make enough eye contact. Then I found it at the library the other day. (I give kudos to our local branches for supporting Musicana Canadiana). Here I am, listening to the album thoroughly from beginning to end for the first time.

Tales From The City
(buy on iTunes)
"Daylight Breaks": Half this song is the very gradual crescendo of an intro. I was about to give up on it, but then the drums came in. (I’m a little upset that Pierre-Marc Hamelin left not long after this album- good luck to him in law studies. The new guy is Martin Lavallée. I could’ve sworn I’d heard his name before, but after 2 hours of meticulous web-scouring, I found not a trace of another band he’d previously been in). Anyways, "Daylight" was apparently written well before recording even their debut album, and is on its way to overtaking “Hands Tied” for the title of “my favourite song by Mobile”.

"Mother": This one’s another favourite of the album- because it’s in the minor key. Written in dedication to Christian’s mother, I’m suspecting.

"Hit the Floor #7": Starts off strong, but eventually becomes a little uninteresting. It has an indie vibe and some funk, so if you like that, they’ll probably keep your attention with this track. Once again, I can’t get enough of the drumming. I don’t see an obvious reason in calling it “#7”, but whatever tickles their fancy.

"The Killer": The first (and seemingly only) single, I blame this song for turning me away from this album at the time of release. Whether or not it turned other away as well is up to debate, but I strongly believe this was not the best choice to promote the album; it still obtains that raw-processed Mobile sound, but not in the conventional way of “Out Of My Head” or “See Right Through Me”. I don’t think I heard this frequented on pop radio, and I definitely didn’t hear it on the rock stations.

"No Tomorrow": Now this one I like. Some interesting affects are added to the vocals, and it almost reminds me of Marilyn Manson. A dark tone, haunting lyrics, near-abusive guitar and an underlying falsetto help out. I love contrast, and this definitely contradicts the only other title containing the word “Tomorrow” (from their previous album).

"Gravity": Realized that I’ve forgotten to mention the guitarists in the group. Well, meet Christian Brais (who also does the keys) and Frank Williamson. I will be awfully surprised if U2 isn’t an influence for the band. I barely hear the Joly’s vocals in this piece, and it’s not because their being muffled under the other instruments; the accompaniment is just that great.

"Slow Motion Car Crash": A bit of awkward shouting in this song, but once again, I think it’s the instrumentals that made me listen to it more than twice. At least the shouting’s different, and in general Mobile-style, it’s echo-ey(; love).

"Sweet Light": Whoa, I wasn’t expecting that- another complete 180- who replaced hopeful band with dark, gloomy ensemble? I think I could grow on it! Good use of mallet percussion and vocalisation at the beginning.

"Live to Find": This track is just pleasing all-around. The truthfulness of the lyric: “we all live to find something we could die for”; the trilling riffs; the constant use of hi-hat.

"All Is Forgiven (Parts I-II-III)": Sort of a concept song.
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(top photo and this photo from Christian Brais)