Caribou (previously Manitoba) is the stage name of multi-instrumentalist and electro mastermind Dr. Dan Snaith (yes, “Dr.”… of Mathematics, in fact) originating from Dundas, Ontario. This guy is basically the modern-day Mozart of indie-electronica, and remains a forerunner of the artistic elite of his generation since day 1 of releasing music. I was introduced to Manitoba while on a bus trip around age 12 – one of the older scenester dudes walked down the aisle with a small battery-powered stereo quietly playing the opening track of debut album “Start Breaking My Heart”. Up to that point, I’d been dependent on the 3 terrible radio stations of my hometown for exposure to new music, mostly waiting intently for “Tubthumping” or “Mambo No. 5” or like Shawn Mullins’ “Lullabye” to come on. So when I heard this uncanny blend of euphoric, pillow-soft melodies and beats floating gently by, it was like some primitive area of my temporal lobe awoke from cryosleep.
Snaith is a polymath of all things music, with absolute creative control of practically all aspects of his music, including the writing, recording, engineering, producing, and every other -ing to do with getting stuff done. Tubthumping, even. If that wasn’t enough, his live act of musical savants puts on the most enjoyable indie show I’ve ever seen. His esthetic has crossed many genres (successfully meldeding most of them together), creating a truly unique listening experience through every single album.
As Manitoba, Snaith released 2 LPs: 2001’s “Start Breaking My Heart”, a largely instrumental / sample-based preface to his complex creativity, followed by 2003’s “Up In Flames”, a showcase of his etherial voice and equal capability to craft more structured rock songs. Soon thereafter, some weirdo threatened to sue over the name Manitoba, so the moniker was changed to Caribou. Regardless, his genre-defining momentum only increased, with 2004’s “The Milk of Human Kindness”, 2008 Polaris Music Prize-winning masterpiece “Andorra”, and his latest, the house-shaking dance banger “Swim”. Oh and I almost forgot, he also DJs under the name Daphni, providing a multitude of remixes as well as a catchy album “Jiaolong” (check out song “Ye Ye” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUFQbc5ymrw). Everything Snaith touches is critically acclaimed and worth its weight in gold; I’d recommend starting with “Andorra” if you’re more of an indie-pop kind of individual, or “Swim” if you prefer fist-pumping and head-bobbing. Update: “Our Love”, Caribou’s much-anticipated new album, was released this week. I’ll go ahead and let it just speak for itself – “Can’t Do Without You”: http://youtu.be/BI2Et19vDCM.
Favourite Manitoba track: Brandon (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGUodHSC0hs)… this is the song mentioned above.
Favourite Caribou tracks:
Andorra – She’s The One (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgslCkXXgSk)… I realize it’s biased to be giving him more songs than other artists, but it’s my website and I’ll do what I want with it.
Swim – Sun (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98D0zbiJR6o)… so, so good.