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An unlikely duo creates one of the best albums of 2014. Unlikely because of the radically different careers they have had upon recording rose ave. You + Me is composed of the Canadian God-among-men, Dallas Green, and an American pop singer who is named after a color pink (stylized P!nk), Alecia Moore. I know all about Dallas Green, but who the hell is Alecia Moore?
Truth is, I have heard of P!nk, but I don’t exactly subscribe to her catalogue. Since she is a pop singer my musical journey has avoided at all costs. I’d hear her works used in various media outlets and, although the subject matter of these songs were not appealing to me, there is no denying that P!nk can definitely sing. However, if you were to tell me that in 2004 the man with the angelic voice in Alexisonfire would ten years later make an album with the girl who performed the song “Get The Party Started,” I would have checked you into the nearest hospital and had your head examined. How did these two artists end up on the same path for rose ave.?
After some research, I learned Moore was born and raised in Pennsylvania and, with her Janis Joplin and Madonna influences, she began performing at age 14 under the “Pink” moniker (which was a nickname that her peers had given her to haze her). In 1993, at age 16, Moore and two other teen girls formed the R & B group, Choice. Their only release was a track called “Key To My Heart” which was on the soundtrack to the motion picture Kazaam, starring Shaq. In the late ’90s Moore went solo and was signed to R & B performer Babyface’s record label, LaFace Records. In 2000, a single “There You Go” was released along with her first album, Can’t Take Me Home. Due to her soulful talent, P!nk was repackaged for the mainstream audience in an urban manner a la Vanilla Ice. Moore has gone on record stating that she was “stifled by all of this” as it did not reflect her true musical ambitions.
In 2001 Moore was featured in an assembled cover of “Lady Marmalade” alongside Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Lil Kim. The song was on the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge! It would go on to become the United States’ most successful airplay-only single and Moore’s first #1 hit.
Further north, in St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada, Dallas Green was born. He is named after a famous, former major league pitcher/manager, Dallas Green. The baseball Dallas Green would manage the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series victory in the musician Dallas Green’s birth year of 1980. Green, the musician, began writing songs at age 16. These songs would go on to be featured on his first solo album Sometimes. Green also sang and played guitar in a band called Helicon Blue which only produced several songs before breaking up.
In 2001 Green would form one of the greatest bands this universe will ever know, Alexisonfire. Which was self-described as “the sound of two catholic high school girls in a knife fight.” The band was also named after a pornstar and the world’s only lactating, contortionist stripper, Alexis Fire (sorry, no link here). Green would play guitar and sing the “pretty parts” for Alexisonfire. In 2002 they released Alexisonfire, their first album. The album is considered a landmark in the Post-Hardcore genre. The album actually features Green’s vocals few and far between. They aren’t featured nearly as much in future releases. Using Green’s beautiful vocals as a secret weapon almost, screamer George Pettit and guitarist Wade MacNeil took most of the vocal duties.
A month after Alexisonfire was released Alecia Moore released her second album Missundaztood. This album had more of a pop rock sound to it than her previous. She wanted to be seen as more than just a cookie cutter pop performer. Moore wanted to write and create music that she wanted to make. She recruited Linda Perry, formerly of Four Non Blondes, to co-write songs for the album. Although it did feature the hooky “Get This Party Started,” it also featured the hit song “Don’t Let Me Get Me.” Which the subject matter is how she was misunderstood in the media as a result of being “Vanilla Iced.”
A year later Moore would release Try This. Although it was produced and co-written by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong, this would be her lowest selling album. She stated that she was unhappy with her label (Arista Records), who wanted her to make an album so soon after the success of her previous release. Moore felt rushed and like a puppet.
During this time, Alexisonfire were doing things their own way and creating quite a buzz in the underground, turning down major labels left and right. In 2004 they released, my personal favorite Alexisonfire release, Watch Out! Hell, it is actually one of my favorite albums of all time! It’s success was immediate. Especially in Canada, going Gold in just 12 weeks. This album featured Green’s beautiful vocals more prominently. He has several shining moments but none as shiny as the passionate recond closer, and Green’s personal favorite, “Happiness By The Kilowatt.”
2005 saw the release of Green’s first solo album Sometimes under the City And Colour name. His first name is a city and his last name is a color (clever). Many of these songs were written when he was just 16 years old, like the gem “Day Old Hate.” This album is different than other City And Colour releases as it features primarily guitars and Green’s voice exclusively. Sometimes is the genesis of what Green does best and that is: Making sad sound so damn good. This album would make him an even bigger star in his native land.
In 2006 after the flop that was Try This, Moore returned to pop chart success with I’m Not Dead Yet. Featuring the girl power hits like “Stupid Girls” and “U +Ur Hand,” she had become a role model for girls who didn’t fit society’s “mold” of how they are supposed to be. Although it had become trendy around this time to write songs about the George “W” regime (rightfully so) her song “Dear Mr. President” was a standout. The track was an open letter to then president, George “Dubya” Bush. The song criticized The Iraq War, The No Child Left Behind Act, and his disapproval of equal rights for homosexuals. It was also folky, which was very unlike anything she had done to this point.
With the success of Watch Out! and Green’s Sometimes, Alexisonfire’s 2006 release, Crisis became their most successful album–the perfect follow up to their last release. “Rough Hands” seemed like a perfect mixture of Green’s two worlds–the aggressiveness of Alexisonfire with the soothing-ness of City And Colour.
It became apparent and inevitable (to me) that City And Colour would become more than just a side project. It is too damn good to just be a side project. This became most evident after Bring Me Your Love was released in 2008. It became clear that Green was putting all his passion into City And Colour. This album progressed from the folkish sound on his first album, featuring an Alt-Country sound, incorporating more instrumentation that went on to continue with his other releases. Out of all his other releases this particular album is similar sounding to rose ave.
Alexisonfire would swan song on what would be their last release, Old Crows/Young Cardinals. Screamer George Pettit stated that they “wanted to drive a knife into the oversaturated screamo genre, they wanted to be the band that killed it.” Alexisonfire rejuvenated their sound and it was an excellent way to close the book on the band. Especially with their 2012 farewell tour.
At this time, Green exited Alexisonfire to do City And Colour full-time. Releasing the wonderful albums Little Hell (2011) and The Hurry And The Harm (2013). On a personal level, I consider Green a hero of mine. The way he opens up in his masterful songwriting as well as his humbling grace is admiring. Moore would go on to release Funhouse (2008) and The Truth About Love (2012) respectively. The latter featured the hit “Give Me A Reason” a duet with Fun’s Nate Ruess (his previous band The Format was better).
Now these parallel roads have merged on rose ave.
When it was first announced that Green and Moore were doing a record I read many negative comments about it due to the fact that Moore is P!nk. But, I’m convinced that Green could do an album with anyone and it would be fantastic so I was immediately interested. Aside from being in Alexisonfire, City And Colour has been primarily Green’s voice only. I was interested to hear his heavenly voice harmonize with a female vocalist. The truth is, their voices gel very very well. Moore’s voice is contralto. It has a pretty raspiness to it. Although, musically this album sounds close to Green’s solo stuff, rose ave. isn’t just City And Colour featuring P!nk. Or they would have just called it Pink And Green. These two have wanted to work with one another for years, both having an admiration for one another’s voice, and the results are beautiful.
The first track I heard from this project was “You And Me.” I immediately fell in love with it. Not just because of how beautiful their voices sound together, but lyrically, they have captured what love is. I’m a sucker for a love song. I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic. The feels this song brings… I get chills every time I hear Moore proclaim, “Oh that’s you and me.” and then Green soothingly says the same. Then they say it together! BEAUTIFUL!
Moore has never sounded so good. This Alt-Country style captures her inner Joplin perfectly. In her case, less is more. All the pop polishing on her work distracts from her core voice. “From A Closet In Norway (Oslo Blues)” has my favorite lyric on the album:
“Seems the dying are the only ones who know how to live.”
That line is cryptically beautiful. In “Gently,” unlike the other tracks, they sing the entire song together instead of the call and response style or taking turns with verses. It works wonderfully. As far as harmony goes, look no further than “Unbeliever” and the entire second half of that track.
“Second Guess” features the first F-Bomb of Green’s career. The call and response style on that song and having their voices meet in the middle is brilliant. The only song on this album that sounds like anything comparable to Moore’s other work is “Break The Cycle.” Coincidentally it is a song to her mother. The strings are excellent, they tie with the theme. This song has a POWERFUL chorus. Everything about it is moving.
“Break the cycle, break the chains, love is louder than all your pain.”
Loving someone who has been neglected of love their entire life is no easy task. All you want to do take away all of their pain. This song perfectly conveys that. They don’t take it easy on your emotions by following that song up with another heavy-hearted track, “Open Door.” This one written about Green’s parents. Also, on a personal level, this track hits home.
In life we all get busy and it is easy to take certain things for granted. We don’t always get to talk to family or friends as much as we should. This song is an ode to that particular person, and the “hope that there will always be an open door.”
The passionate cover of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” closes out the album. My favorite is the album’s opening track “Capsized.” It is very moody. And the chorus is very contagious. It sets the bar for what you are going to experience during your travel down rose ave. With the cold months approaching, this album is very cozy. It is the perfect introspective and reflective album. Take a trip down rose ave. Won’t you?
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