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Michael Rault starts a party with classic sounds

With four albums already under his belt, 21-year-old Edmonton garage pop wunderkind Michael Rault has happily feasted on riches offered by the genre when it comes to being prolific.

With four albums already under his belt, 21-year-old Edmonton garage pop wunderkind Michael Rault has happily feasted on riches offered by the genre when it comes to being prolific.


Clean and "mid-fi," as described by the man himself, Rault deploys the flavour of garage pop that has been enjoying a boon in popularity, fuelled by snappy hooks, sharp guitar licks and shuffling Tennessee Three percussion. Wall of sound without the wall.


Oh, yeah. And a bratty voice that taunts just as much as it invites when Rault urges, "Come on baby, won't you call me?" on beach side party-starter, Call Me On The Phone, one of the many two-minute gems from his latest album, Ma-Me-O.


"It's the kind of music I grew up listening to in my family," Rault says from Kingston, the stop of the day on his national tour with Bedouin Soundclash and Charlie Winston. "My dad and my uncle both play this old sort of rock and roll, blues and soul style. I never thought I would play this kind of music, and I'm not trying to emulate it exactly. I just sort of fell in love with soul and R&B naturally."


Of course, it doesn't hurt that these days most of us largely spend our listening hours with MP3 players and lousy headphones, a natural avenue for a recording style that still sounds unnatural without accompanying tape hiss or vinyl pop.


"There's so many different reasons why the lo-fi thing is popular right now," the singer says. "The nice thing is that you can make a lot of interesting sounds that become harder to do when you get into a big studio. It's easier to experiment when there's no money on the line. And that way of recording into a crappy tape deck does work really well with tiny headphone speakers.


"I can't believe that Louie Louie by The Kingsmen was a hit, you know?" he adds. "It messes up a bunch of times and the whole thing is just so loose. It has a live feel, and it sounds like a band playing in a room. It makes it easier to relate to."


Aside from paying perhaps unintentional homage to Fifties and Sixties recording techniques, Rault also gets his kicks with the dominant trope of the era: I'll promise not to break your heart, if you promise not to break mine.


But it's his live performance that could make him break out, and will also make it worth coming out early to the dates he shares with Bedouin Soundclash. Kicking off his sets, literally, with a one-man band shtick complete with a standard kick, Rault is later joined by his sister to sing harmonies before closing out with members of Charlie Winston's band for the final few songs.


"We got into the habit of playing together when we were in Paris in September," Rault says of the Charlie Winston crew.


Playing with Bedouin Soundclash "has been an interesting tour," he says. "So far we've been playing mostly, by my standards, bigger venues. I generally find that I prefer playing smaller venues. I generally find that I like playing smaller clubs as much or more than I like playing the bigger ones, even though it kind of exhilarating to get on stage and play to a huge crowd. But if it's a smaller crowd, it's a lot easier to have a personal connection."

 
 
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