38 minutes that goes by far too quickly…
Review by Allan Jones
Release date: 25 September 2015
I’ve been listening to this album now for about two weeks, and I’m still struggling to place it in a nice and tidy box so I can describe it. Nominally, the band themselves call it “dirty, grimy Fuzz Rock”. But it doesn’t completely stay in that nice little box. Sometimes it’s screaming at you, sometimes it’s psychedelia layered in harmonies and reverb, sometimes it’s just flat out aggression and power – but it’s all laden in hooks and grooves throughout. The important thing, though, is that it’s all good. It drifts between styles with insouciant ease, quickly moving from the crunching heaviness of ‘Back To The River’ to the screaming vocal of ‘Prairie Oyster’ to the almost U2-esque guitar work of ‘Hold On’ over three consecutive tracks.
‘Styles’ isn’t quite the right word to use, though. Everything still sounds like the same band, and there’s no jarring disconnect – everything fits, and as an album it comes over as a band who are happy to explore what they can do. It didn’t surprise me at all to learn that these guys are Canadian – even with the heaviness pervading everything on the album, there’s a quietly confident, relaxed air about them that you can’t help but admire.
Given that they’re from Canada, it’s hardly a surprise to find that this is actually their second album – they’ve been around since 2010, releasing two EPs and a full-length album in that time, as well as squeezing in tours with the likes of Monster Truck along the way. At the time of recording, the band weren’t signed to any labels, either, which no doubt explains the unstressed and creative nature of the album. As a three-piece, they work brilliantly – Brendan Simpson’s bass/vocal combines with Ryan Forsythe’s guitar/vocal effortlessly, and the beats provided by Brandon Carter tie the whole thing together. They’re not afraid to leave space either.
If I’m being picky, the screaming on ‘Prairie Oyster’ isn’t my cup of tea – I do think that the rest of the album is far better for the more conventional singing on display elsewhere – and in places the vocal is a little too far back in the mix. Otherwise, it’s 38 minutes that goes by far too quickly, and just when you think you’ve got a handle on what the band are all about, they go and give you a track like ‘Looking Glass’ that glides between crushingly heavy and sparse, stripped back blues, and follow that with the mellow basslines of ‘Walk Again’ to close it out.
8 out of 10
- Back To The River
- Prairie Oyster
- Hold On
- The Barrens
- Looking Glass
- Walk Again