Friday, July 10, 2009
Lately it seems that being a hot "indie" band from Montreal is as much of a curse as it is a blessing. Obviously the scene has chops – 17 of the 40 Polaris long-listers call the area home – but the shine of being the next big thing from Montreal is now tossed out with the slightest hint of distaste. It’s kind of like being the next thing from Brooklyn. People acknowledge both as creative petri dishes and you can't discredit the impact both have on shaping new music, but unlike a few years ago, that praise is handed out reluctantly or with reservation.
So it will be interesting to see the response Flotilla receives for their second record, One Hundred Words for Water. The boy/girl, boy/girl band displays a creativity and a unique sonic palette that opts for subtlety over shock and surprisingly optimistic point of view instead of the melancholic gloom that seems to be the muse for indie bands of any substance.
The thing is, no matter how talented a band is, pitching a sound that includes folk, jazz, funk, atmospherics, minimal electronics and harp isn’t really an easy sell or one that can be described quickly. But as you listen to Flotilla, it's obvious their sound is very engaging. One Hundred Words for Water begs for countless listens, as the band switches moods, tone and feel but never losing that crucial cohesive feel. Whether it’s the syncopated rhythms of Old Mill or the grit of the minor toned opener, Song for Yannick, Veronica’s vocals bend and shift to mirror the textures the band creates. Even when the listen is refreshed by the spiked tempo of Clouds and the funky bridge of Charlie, I’m Through, she holds her own, acting as a front woman but never overpowering the music.
But it's the complexity of the arrangements that really show the band’s talent. Prelude and Epilogue blends harmonies, horns, twinkling keys and shimmering guitar that crescendo nicely before retreating. The moody Ghost in a Landscape gives off a slight Portishead vibe, but it's the down tempo transitions and whimisical harp that really grab me. Song for Yannick manages to control the schizophrenic transitions before they veer too far off course and even the relatively straight forward guitar, drums and Liz Powell-ish vocals that push A Thousand Jacobs feel fuller and more adventurous thanks to the harp that dances alongside the melody.
One Hundred Words For Water is not your standard indie rock record and in today's cookie cutter world, that's terrific. Flotilla shows that creative songs are still being written in the land of poutine and the status the region holds is still well deserved. Even better? Flotilla are heading to Halifax, and playing the @ The Paragon on July 22nd. I would wager it's going to be a great night of music, so you should all head out.
MP3:: Flotilla - Charlie, I'm Through (PS. This is the Jam)
MP3:: Flotilla - Prélude and Epilogue