The Awkward Stage is the brainchild of Vancouver's Shane Nelken. His debut album, Heaven Is For Easy Girls, will soon be out on Mint Records. Nelken has played with some of Vancouver's finest, including A.C. Newman (of The New Pornographers), Sparrow, Vancouver Nights, The Ronnie Hayward Trio, The Come Ons, The Buzzards, and The Blue Lodge Quartet. Because of the Vancouver thing and the association with Newman, it might be hard for him to shake the comparison for a while. But what the hell is wrong with that?
Heaven Is For Easy Girls possesses many of the same characteristics that made Newman's The Slow Wonder so incredibly fantastic - a versatile, endearing voice matched with complex and fun pop songwriting that sounds effortless in it's technique. There's a little Jason Falkner, a little Jonathan Richman, Belle & Sebastian, Morrissey, New Order, and more. It's a smorgasbord of sounds with Nelken's beautiful tenor dominating each one.
"I Drive" is my favorite track on the album. It rips off the intro to "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" and the rest of the song continues as a Smiths-like chugging soundtrack to a bike ride down the coast of Vancouver. "The Morons Are Winning," the leadoff track (which until about 5 minutes ago was "The MORMONS Are Winning") sounds most like the A.C. Newman/New Pornographers sound that Nelken is bound to hear. Nelken's falsetto is flawless and the background vocals singing "shutup, shutup" starts the record off on the somewhat comedic tone that the band's name, album cover, album title, and song titles like "So Stupid, So Smart," "I Love You, Hipster Darling," and "T-Rexia Nervosa," seem to help with. It's refreshing that someone can write such complex and beautiful songs yet not take themselves as seriously as some artists do today.
You'll be hearing a lot more from Shane Nelken and The Awkward Stage. They just made a great record that you should really hear.
"Heaven Is For Easy Girls" MP3