Reviews:: i see rowboats - Hide and Seek Behind The Throne

Hide And Seek Behind The ThroneI think we've given the Halifax music scene plenty of solid coverage this past year. So hopefully the fact that I am only now discussing i see rowboats' excellent debut EP, Hide And Seek Behind The Throne says more about the abundance of quality acts in this city then it does about my laziness.

i see rowboats (it appears the rowboats do not enjoy the capital letters, so I will follow suit) was formed after friends Will Robinson and Luke Fisher reconnected and set about filling a roster of friends to accompany them as they began to play the songs Robinson was writing. Soon after, Fisher's frenetic fiddle playing and Robinson's melancholy vocals and steady guitar work were meshed with Darcy Fraser's solid drumming as well as the string-heavy, multi-instrumentalism of Lisa Lipton and Soloman Vromans. It didn't take long for a heavy buzz to build for the new quintet's string-tastic indie rock - they had only played together live 12 times before landing a slot at this years's Halifax Pop Explosion alongside Polaris nominees the Besnard Lakes.

A listen to Hide And Seek Behind The Throne certainly reveals that the buzz is well deserved. ISR's sound is led by it's strings, the fiddle, viola, cello, all play a prominent role. Strings in indie rock is nothing new, but rarely do you see them integrated as organically and to such a captivating effect as they are here. This is but a 5 song EP, but the vastness of the songs make it feel like an experience on a much larger scale.

The fantastic instrumental Mine And Strike kicks off the album in high gear, with Fisher's fiddle racing out into the lead, soon to be joined by guitar, drums and vocal Oh-oooo's in all the right places. The drumming over the last minute and change is stellar. I'm not sure it's accurate to say that vocals are secondary on an ISR song, but certainly the music is given all the room it needs to do it's thing on a song like the seven minute epic Ci Ci. Mournful glockenspiel opens the song and some lonely, lovely fiddle work holds your attention until Robinson's tale of trans-Atlantic love begins at around the two minute mark. Great song, certainly a seven minute investment you won't regret.
The raucous In Cars is simply a great song with all musical elements of the band working together. It brings Arcade Fire to mind, but the more focused AF of Funeral vs. the more theatrics-laded AF of late. I resolve to see i see rowboats play live next year in order to see them do this song.

I'm about as far from a classical music enthusiast as one can get, but the classical influence on this EP makes me think I might be missing out. It also makes me think that ISR's full-length album is going to be excellent. In the meantime, I'd suggest getting a copy of Hide And Seek Behind The Throne, as this is certainly a band to keep an eye on in 2008.

MP3:: i see rowboats - In Cars

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