Emerging out of Vancouver during the post-punk era, the musical collective Corsage features the core group of Phil Smith (vocals), Bill Napier-Hemy (guitar), Ron Allan (bass) and John Cody (drums). Over 7 albums and numerous live performances and broadcasts, they have collaborated with a host of Vancouver's finest musical and artistic talents on songs that run from trance to pop to techno-folk.
CD OF THE WEEK
by Tom Harrison, Vancouver Province
November 3, 2014
Corsage is a sometimes thing. It only seems to exist when its four members might have something to say based on Phil Smith’s poetry and Bill Napier-Hemy’s coolest guitar riffs. It’s hard not to think of Corsage as theoretical, as opposed to careerist. This benefits the new A Procession of Dreams because the band sounds relaxed, at ease with itself. The centrepiece is From Earth To Heaven With A Smile, which is dreamlike in its modal structure and recalls how many ’60s psychedelic bands incorporated Eastern moods.
by Darren Kerr
Corsage create hip guitar rock in the tradition of CBGB bands like Television, music that sounds both downtown urban and calm, serene rural. Phil Smith has a voice that is a cross between head Sister of Mercy Andrew Eldritch and a grounded Gibby Haynes via Jello Biafra. His voice is unique, standing out amongst the grunge holdovers and aggro rock grinders. Guitarist Bill Napier-Hemy knows when to sit in the pocket ("Kill the Messenger") and when to embark on Tom Verlaine-esque flights of fancy ("Crashing Down to Heaven"). Drummer John Cody really understands the value of underplaying to set a foundation for the songs to grow out of, while Ron Allan's bass work is fully realized, deftly underpinning the main framework of the songs but still stretching out with some cool, subtle runs.
The whole disc is refreshingly unpretentious. Even when Smith delves into jazzbo spoken word territory on "A Cab Pulls Up to Trader Vic's," it sounds genuine, not contrived. Coal's Nicole Steen takes over the lead vocal reins on "Free the Rings of Saturn." Her sweet mellow tones coupled with Chris Grove's wicked sax breaks make this tune one of Western Roll's highlights.
The CD was recorded at CBC Studios Vancouver for David Wisdom's consistently entertaining Nightlines radio program and David Elvidge's production is pristine. This is a very good album, perfect for lazy, overcast Sundays and late night gatherings when you're huddled around the ol' hookah.
First published in Drop-D Magazine on November 23, 1996