Canasta – The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather


Band: Canasta
Album: The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather
Release Date: May 18, 2010

If you’re an avid reader of Chicago Tunes, you probably already know that the site was largely inspired by a pretty unforgettable performance by Canasta just a few weeks ago. (In case you missed it, go here). The group’s persistence to get their gig off the ground was totally impressive. It was enough to make me want to want something that badly in my own life (whatever that thing may be).

So, it seems only natural that I review their most recent album, The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather. It’s fitting that I do that now, too, since the group has two gigs in Chicago coming up this month. (Skip to the “extras” section of this post for details and ticket information).

I’ll begin things with what I’d assume is one of their favorites to perform live: “Mexico City.” The track is a high-octane journey to that city to our south, which becomes the setting for what may be a clash between a woman who lives there and a man who pays what turns out to be a poorly timed visit.

What makes it special is how nutso it is. Its energy runs through the roof. I love the keyboard work, as well as the shouts (so small! so small!) from the backup vocalists. But what really does it for me is the 20-second violin solo about midway through. It’s a total trip, and can’t be anything less than a thrill for Elizabeth Lindau every time she plays it in front of people.

I’m particularly taken by a track like “Reading the Map Upside Down.” The obvious interpretation would be what you’d expect it to be: A pair of people, a group of friends, whatever, who find themselves lost but decide to keep to their current path.

Matt Priest belts:

This don’t look right, doesn’t feel right. I think we’re reading the map upside down. I vote we stay the course, and take the longer way around.

To me, though, the song carries a bit more meaning than that. Instead of a single instance, I think of a person who’s traveled an alternative route for a good amount of time — to the point where they can no longer distinguish between normal and different. Or, even better, they choose to avoid the norm because it isn’t as fun and interesting as cutting an original path. Why do what everyone else is doing when you can just as well do your own thing?

The orchestration in The Fakeout is remarkably great. You’d think the indie-pop group has been around for 15 years or more. It’s been more like seven. In that time, the group has released an EP, a full-length, a remix album and now The Fakeout. Layering the likes of a keyboard, drums, guitar, violin and other instruments, the music in The Fakeout is rich with character.

Listen to “Magazine (Songwriter on a Train)” to get a feel for what I’m saying. There’s so much going on — keyboards, guitar plucking, violin, shakers, backup shouts (He thinks he knows you so well!), let alone a fast tempo — that I discover new things about it with just about every listen. Forget its meaning; just appreciate all that went into it instrumentally. It’s superb.

Before I wrap here, I must mention that what brings it all together is Matt Priest himself, who co-founded the band with Lindau and boasts one hell of a voice. I feel like with The Fakeout, we get Priest running the gambit on his abilities as a vocalist. He can do playful (“Magazine”), agitated (“Mexico City”) and sentimental (“I Don’t Know Where I was Going with This“), to name a few. He’s a tremendous asset to a group like Canasta, and helps carry their instrumentation to an even higher level.


Enjoy this review? Check out other Music Reviews on Chicago Tunes!


About Eric

Hello there. Email your things to chicagotunes[at]gmail[dot]com.
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5 Responses to Canasta – The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather

  1. Doc says:

    We’ll see ya at The Livery on September 17th. I’m looking forward to seeing the band again.

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