Key To The City – Owls of Getchü
When Calgary-based dark pop ensemble Vailhalen decided it was time for a break back in 2007, the seeds of the album that would become Owls Of Getchü had already been sown. Ten Halloween-themed songs – not-too-campy, not-too-serious takes on classic Hollywood monsters, both in their own right and as metaphors for life and relationships – waited for their moment in the sun, evolving slowly over the next couple of years. By the time Vailhalen re-emerged in 2009 as the Coldwave-meets-New Wave quartet Key To The City, Owls Of Getchü had reached its final form as a unique, rebellious, fascinating album.
As members of Vailhalen, Chris Vail (vocals/guitar), Brent Gough (keyboards/vocals), Pablo Puentes (bass/vocals), and Joel Nye (drums) had played music festivals such as Canadian Music Week, the Sled Island Festival, The Western Canadian Music Awards, and Austin’s Folk Alliance. The band has also toured extensively throughout Canada, in support of their 2005 critically acclaimed full-length album Pop Violence (Saved By Radio). When Vailhalen geared down, the members of what is now Key To The City reinvigorated their creative energies in a variety of ways: Nye stayed busy with his other band, Hot Little Rocket; Puentes embarked on a new ‘day job’ as a tattoo artist; Gough took a sabbatical to travel extensively throughout Europe and Asia; and Vail opened up a live music venue/bar in Calgary, before spending a year playing in The Dudes. Now, in Key To The City, all the band members now share in all band-related duties, including songwriting, as opposed the early years of Vailhalen when Vail was the catalyst and focal point. Despite there being fewer members, they are actually more of a group now than have ever been!
The production on Owls Of Getchü was inspired by 10cc's The Original Soundtrack, and features a clean ’70s-style drum sound and extensive horn and string sections (the horns on the opening track "Our House Is Host" were arranged and conducted by Jay Crocker, with the rest arranged by Vail). The songs range from the Prince-ian vampire/mummy romance of “There’s a Fire” and the bouncy werewolf duet “Silver Bullets” to the sadly reflective monsters’ tales of “Back In Black Lagoon” and “Will O’ The Wisp”.