Gal Gracen
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Gal Gracen

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Pop New Age

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Seven chill communications from Role Mach janglist Gal Gracen make up Blue Hearts in Exile. Alternating between instrumentals and songs – electrified guitar exotica and wavering, soulful proclamations of love – this cassette creates the perfect atmosphere for a romantic night-time beach picnic or basement couch makeout party. “Love Fantasy, My Beautiful Girl” chugs along with an earworming bassline, while “Sylvan Tragedy” glistens with sleazy, falsetto melancholia. These are soft ‘n sexy jams for summer ’13’s Casanovan conquests. - Weird Canada


Dick Fingers.

That was the facetiously pornographic moniker that Gal Gracen leader Patrick Geraghty first arrived upon when he envisioned a pop-oriented side-project away from his other group, Role Mach. The band was designed as a collaboration with Apollo Ghosts frontman Adrian Teacher and local songwriter Jay Arner, and Geraghty volunteered the band to play a feminist music festival called Smash Patriarchy.

“We hadn’t had a chance to learn any songs yet, but I really wanted to play a show, and I just posted on the Smash Patriarchy Facebook event that I was enlisting us to play at the show,” he tells BeatRoute during an interview at Wendy’s on Cambie St.

So how did the women react to the news that a band called Dick Fingers wanted to play their show? “They said we could,” Geraghty remembers of the good-natured joke, noting that he ended up skipping the gig. “I don’t know if anyone expected us to show up, but I think if we had shown up, they would have given us some time to just bash around.”

By the time Music Waste rolled around in 2012, Geraghty had rechristened the project Gal Gracen after a character from a piece of medieval fiction he wrote for a school assignment several years prior.

“I feel kind of bad roping in Jay and Adrian and having unilaterally chosen the band name for us without having more of a discussion with them,” he admits. Later in the discussion, he adds, “They’re both extremely busy with their own projects, so I don’t think they mind if I take the reigns a bit. But it’s not intentional. I’m really lucky to be surrounded by two of the most talented people in Vancouver. It’s an open call for submissions — anything that they want to contribute is welcome.”

Both Teacher (guitar) and Arner (synths/programming) factor heavily in Gal Gracen’s dance party-inspiring live shows, but the project’s newly released tape, Blue Hearts in Exile, is almost entirely Geraghty’s work. After recording some short drum loops with Arner, the frontman constructed seven sprawling indie-pop tracks utilizing hypnotic guitar doodles and swaths of soporific reverb.

Cuts like “Love Fantasy, My Beautiful Girl” and “Sylvan Tragedy” set a romantic, nocturnal mood that Geraghty says is designed for mellow background listening. “I wanted something that’s just totally innocuous that people can put on in the background and it won’t stress them out at all,” he explains modesty. “I’m not trying to steal anyone’s attention. It’s just wallpaper music. Muzak is the way to go.”

The songs’ atmospheric sound was captured at Little Mountain Gallery, where Geraghty utilized microphones placed across the room in order to capture plenty of natural reverb with minimal need for artificial effects. The vocals were later overdubbed after hours in Black Dog Video and edited together using the long-outdated computer program Cool Edit Pro.

He notes that the collection’s final track, the epic “Blue Hearts 2,” took shape after Green Burrito Records told him to flesh out the album’s second half. Laughing, he reveals, “Originally, one side of the tape was 16 minutes, and the other side was 10 or 11 minutes, so the last song of the tape, they asked me just to put some filler on there. I stretched out a song that was originally two minutes to eight minutes. I just recorded myself playing guitar and sped it up to 400%, put a ton of effects on it and had it stretch across the second half of the cassette tape.”

Is a blissful piece of ambient pop, but Geraghty says that future Gal Gracen releases will likely find him pushing in new directions. “I’d like to do a recording with the band that’s a bit more dream-pop-sci-fi-fantasy,” he muses. “I’m pretty inconsistent. My tastes kind of change with the moment.” - Beatroute (BC)


As the self-proclaimed “velvet hustler” Gal Gracen, Patrick Geraghty is currently pushing some of the best romantic sounds in the Vancouver scene, but the solo artist’s new album Blue Hearts in Exile still humbly submits to the classics. The cassette release is bookended with a pair of tracks (the aptly named “Blue Hearts 1” and “Blue Hearts 2”) that are built around a leisurely loop of early ’60s slow dance number “Stand By Me”. But while each track riffs on that familiar bass bounce, Geraghty chops Ben E. King’s vocals in favour of swooning guitar and marimba. There’s plenty of starry-eyed charm sitting between the pastiches too, whether it be the sky-climbing six-string runs of the dreampop cut “8”, or the vocalist’s journey from a honey-dripping baritone to a fantastical falsetto on the syrupy slowcore waltz “Sylvan Tragedy”.

The passionate Motown pound and gentle guitar on “Love Fantasy, My Beautiful Girl”, meanwhile, make it the stunner of the bunch. After suggesting various idyllic scenarios to his amour, Geraghty further cements his devotion with the sensually sung “Can you see me standing behind the shimmering light/I’ll do anything for you.” You’d have to have a heart of stone to keep this local Romeo in exile. - Georgia Straight (Vancouver)


Going by the billing for December 12′s Gal Gracen/Watermelon/Courtneys Christmas-themed triple feature at the ANZA Club on certain event listings, one might be forgiven for thinking there’s a bit of name dropping gone awry.

Thankfully, the show wasn’t anything quite that cynical — why would anyone think that, anyway? — but instead a time-honoured local tradition. With Watermelon raising funds for an upcoming West Coast tour, it was nothing more than a bunch of friends throwing a shindig to help each other out. Christmas spirit, you know?

Openers Gal Gracen set the bar for the evening, despite some teething problems with the ANZA Club’s PA, which seemed wont to bury their vocals, whether they wanted it or not. Overall, the band was able to indulge their reveries: drum machine balladry cutting through cosmic polysynth pads and shimmering chords. The fact, then, that frontman Patrick Geraghty’s vocals were sometimes pushed to the back wasn’t much of a problem at all.

It certainly helped that Geraghty cut the tension with his charmingly cornball banter, whether musing on how Santa washes his suit (with “Yule Tide,” ‘natch) or self-deprecatingly introducing a song as having “low energy” and the one after as having “even less energy,” making the best of the intermittently poor sound situation.

Perhaps Gal Gracen had it lucky though. Starting the next set with little fanfare, jangle-poppers Watermelon soldiered on through the mix that somehow seemed to be worsening. Despite axe man Thom Lougheed’s performance being marred by drowned-out vocals and a smattering of flubbed notes — did the monitors cut out, too? — the band held together for most of their set, the rhythm section maintaining a steady pulse and Lougheed keeping things from becoming too workmanlike by throwing in a few flourishes on his guitar.

It was unfortunate, then, that Watermelon seemed to lose it right at the end of their set (and not in a good way): the band dribbled out an insipid cover of Weezer’s “Only in Dreams,” and drummer Akanee Yamaki nearly dropped a drum stick. To her credit, though, she didn’t miss a beat. The moment was a good representation for Watermelon’s set: despite occasional but obvious hiccups, at least they got to where they needed to be that night.

Finally, The Courtneys took the stage after spending the night slinging shirts and music videos on VHS, and the clarity (or lack thereof) of the ANZA’s sound reached its nadir. Given the droning, Clean-esque wall of noise they’re enamoured of, it didn’t make much difference to the Courtneys’ performance, inaudible intermissions excepted.

Still, it would have been nice to hear some vocals during their set, especially on their more melodic outings, such as “Lost Boys.” Alas, some things were not meant to be. - Discorder Magazine


Discography

Blue Hearts In Exile (CST; Green Burrito Records, 2013)
infinity (single on the Pop Alliance Vol. 3 compilation LP; Mint Records, 2013)

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Bio

Inspired by sublime beauty and endless love, Gal Gracen are purveyors of a dreamy sound inspired by the gauziest tones of bands from the Flamingos to the Durutti Column.

The band originated as the solo music of Patrick Geraghty, utilizing sequenced loops and shimmering psychedelic guitars to create a lush, romantic sound. Cinematic in tone and featuring a rotating cast of collaborators, the music has been used to live-score z-grade sci-fi movies and deep web travel videos, as well as soundtracking Vancouver's music scene at its most escapist.

Following 2013's "Blue Hearts in Exile," which blended 50s exotica samples and 80s new wave affects, Gal Gracen expanded into a four-piece pop ensemble featuring Evan McDowell (guitar), Ellis Sam (bass) and Nathan Deschamps (drums). They have released music with Green Burrito Records (Mac DeMarco/The Courtneys) and Mint Records in Vancouver.