Music Picks

Remember High School Choir Practice?

New Vancouver group's fun, awkward, nostalgic sounds.

By Jackie Wong 5 Apr 2007 | TheTyee.ca

Jackie Wong is a frequent contributor to Music Pix.

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'Victims' and fans of choir.

"All of us are school choir victims," laughs Vancouver musician Coco Culbertson. She's a member of a new band called The Choir Practice.

Even after the memory of algebra has dulled to a useless whisper, most Canadians remember awkward renditions of "Dust in the Wind," accidental public vomiting at the Christmas concert, universally unflattering uniforms.

"It's a product of Canadian public schools. I was only in choir because I had to be. We had to practice every lunch. It was such torture."

But despite an early hatred of school-sanctioned singing, Culbertson went on to hone her musical talents as a bass player driving the beats of The Gay, a Vancouver indie pop outfit. After years of performing with The Gay and touring with AC Newman, Culbertson returned to her home in Strathcona, looking to start a new project.

With a few friends, a piano, and copious amounts of red wine, Culbertson started hosting events at her home. "We'd get together and practice, and basically exercise our voices." The open-door policy of the evenings drew an increasing number of participants, many of them members of Vancouver bands like P:ano, Great Aunt Ida, The Blood Meridian and Love and Mathematics.

"It's coincidental, but everybody in The Choir Practice sang in a choir." The positive, community-oriented environment surrounding The Choir Practice proves Culbertson claim that "people love to sing together," despite the implicit weirdness of obligatory choir membership. "People want to do it more than they want to admit."

For Culbertson, the beauty of The Choir Practice lies in the dignity of its musicians. "Nobody's a prop player, nobody's doing the least amount possible. Everyone is performing with equity." The result is a bright, colourful sound lush with quirky lyrics that subvert the pomp and circumstance of traditional choirs. The earnest "take off your clothes" chorus of "Red Fox" is a lot funnier and far less creepy than the butcher shop absurdity of Kidz Bop Kids, while the cadences of "Failsafe" showcase the group's vocal chemistry.

The Choir Practice returns the moments of your life you thought you'd never get back from after-school glee club rehearsals. Mandatory cuff links, step off!

The Choir Practice releases its self-titled debut album on Mint Records, May 18th.

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