Few Canadian musicians have kept themselves as busy over the past decade as Spencer Krug. His resume includes multiple albums with bands such as Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, Frog Eyes, Fifths Of Seven and his newest solo project called Moonface. Not only to these bands represent a massive quantity of music, but they also showcase just how diverse of a songwriter and musical explorator Krug is. It’s nice to have a musician who isn’t afraid to try something different. It seems like with each new album and each new band he continually tries to reinvent himself, which is something I think a lot of musicians could learn from.
Although he is now based in Montreal, Krug is from Penticton, British Columbia (a town near Vancouver). His British Columbia roots have obviously influenced his music as far as collaborations with other artists go. Most notably, Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes, Swan Lake), Dan Bejar (Swan Lake) and Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade) all call Canada’s westernmost province their home to a certain extent.
Even though Krug contributed to Frog Eyes starting in 2002, that band is really Carey Mercer’s baby. Krug’s big break came in 2003 after he moved to Montreal to study at Concordia University when he was offered a gig by Alex Megelas of Grenadine Records with only a three week deadline to form a band. So Spencer recruited Band Boeckner and Arlen Thompson who became known as Wolf Parade. The band only got to practice as a three piece one day before their first show. The interesting thing is that their first show was opening for Arcade Fire in 2003. It’s kind of crazy to think about the star power that would come out of two relatively unknown bands at the time, but it wasn’t long before both bands blew up.
Soon after Wolf Parade had recorded and self-released two EP’s, they traveled to Portland to record a record with Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, who had recently signed Wolf Parade to Sup Pop Records. The album eventually came out in September of 2005 and it was called Apologies To The Queen Mary. This debut album was met with a great deal of critical acclaim including a 9.2 rating on Pitchfork as well as a nomination for the 2006 Polaris Music Prize. I still consider Apologies To The Queen Mary to be the best album that Wolf Parade has ever put out. The whole dynamic of Krug and Boeckner being like dueling songwriters is fantastic.
Although Wolf Parade was Krug`s biggest project of 2005, it wasn’t his only project. In July of 2005 Krug released his debut album under the name Sunset Rubdown which was titled Snake’s Got A Leg. This actually turned out to be the only full length solo album that Krug would release under the name Sunset Rubdown. Snake’s Got A Leg was decidedly DIY as it featured a lo-fi recording and many looped samples.
In 2006 Krug released the solo Sunset Rubdown EP before expanding Sunset Rubdown to a full band to release Sunset Rubdown’s second full length album titled Shut Up I Am Dreaming in May of 2006. Given the new full band setup, Shut Up I Am Dreaming was definitely more expansive and adventurous than anything that Sunset Rubdown had released in the past. Sunset Rubdown appeared to be an outlet for Spencer Krug’s pop music stylings as opposed to the rock music that he was making with Wolf Parade.
Just like in 2005 when Krug released two albums as part of different groups, in 2006 he released an album with band called Swan Lake titled Beast Moans. Swan Lake was kind of a Canadian indie super group of worst as it featured Krug along with Carey Mercer and Dan Bejar. Although supergroups often fail, Swan Lake turned out to be a huge success as they produced a great fusion of indie rock and pop.
In 2007 Krug got lazy (har har) and only released one album as part of Sunset Rubdown called Random Spirit Lover (Although he did contribute to the Frog Eyes release of Tears Of The Valedictorian). It's important to note that Random Spirit Lover is one of my favourite albums of all time. It is an incredibly dense and chaotic piece of experimental pop music. Although it probably isn’t the most immediate album in the world, it still rewards me with each and every new listen, which is something I love in an album. Even though many people thought Random Spirit Lover suffered from some production problems, I still love it to death.
Continuing on the seemingly endless train of releases from Krug, Wolf Parade released their second studio album titled At Mount Zoomer in 2008. Although it wasn’t received quite as well as Apologies To The Queen Mary was, I still this it showed a lot of ambition. The Highlight of the album for me is the final ten minute track “Kissing The Beehive” which features both Krug and Boeckner teaming up for an incredible journey through rock experimentalism.
In 2009 Krug got off his lazy ass and once again released two albums in the same year, Dragonslayer by Sunset Rubdown and Enemy Mine by Swan Lake. Interestingly enough, both of these albums featured different versions of the song “Paper Lace” by Krug (perhaps one of the first musicians to cover himself in a different band?). Again, I loved both of these albums, they continued on the trajectory that both bands were going in. I specifically fell in love with Dragonslayer. It had improved production from Random Spirit Lover and even though I’d will Krug’s brand of pop music on Dragonslayer experimental, it’s still catchy as hell.
Another interesting release from Krug in 2009 was a 7” that was titled Introducing Moonface which was by Sunset Rubdown. Although it wasn’t known at the time, this 7” would end up launching another solo project for Krug under his new Moonface moniker.
In 2010 Wolf Parade released their final studio album titled Expo 86 before they went on hiatus. the album was recorded live off the floor which led to a more cohesive feel even if the songs didn’t have as much staying power with me.
In 2010 Krug also released his and EP as Moonface which was titled Marimba And Shit-Drums. The EP featured the marimba as its main instrument (who would have guessed that) in one sprawling 20 minute song. Both fortunately and unfortunately, this release also marked a new focus for Krug as both Sunset Rubdown and Swan Lake were set aside as Krug continued to focus more on Moonface.
Krug has since released two albums as Moonface. In 2011 he released Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped (another descriptive title) and in 2012 he released a collaborative effort with Finnish kraut rockers Siinai titled Heartbreaking Bravery. Both of these albums showed that Krug isn’t afraid to try new things in music, which as I said before, is infinitely more interesting than doing the same thing over and over again. I personally hope Krug comes out with an experimental rap album in the near future. But as much as I can hope, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Krug is said to be working on a new album to be released in 2013 on his new label Paper Bag Records. There isn’t any word yet on what the album might sound like, but I’m it won’t sound like anything anybody expects.
The point of this article is really to show that it isn’t impossible to create quantity without sacrificing quality. Krug is just one example of this, Jay Reatard is another great one. I guess sometimes the best music comes as a result of spontaneity rather than the result of careful planning. But however Krug decides to create his music is fine with me, I personally think he’s one of the great geniuses of the past decade.