The Ann Arbor, Michigan, band Canada
finds itself in the absurd position of being a seven-piece collective that imaginatively applies banjos, melodica, xylophone, cellos, manual typewriters, glee-club shouting and the twitter of sparrows but still sounds somewhat derivative. Its sycophantic name doesn't help although dudes scored the MySpace URL before the country did but what's a well-meaning satellite to the Sufjan-Arcade Fire-Decemberists axis of Big-Band Indie to do? Write some ravishing melodies and vigorous hooks, which Canada does on 2006's This Cursed House
, an orchestral cycle that begins with the handsome get-up-and-go of an escapist station wagon, lingers long over lyrical ennui and ends with an after-hours echo of the Mamas and Papas sitting in with the Velvet Underground.