Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Reviews:: Entire Cities Deep River

People often say that bands make a splash when they appear out of nowhere and release a debut that is as promising as it is engaging. If that metaphor holds true, Entire Cities last EP would be one of those fat guys doing a huge belly flop off the high dive in a bad Animal House style teen comedy.

I don't know how any fan of Canadian music could listen to the diverse elements the super-band used over the course of seven songs and not be won over, but the mix of ballads and barn dancing foot stompers were just the type of songs that should have been all over the blogs. Instead, the band simply kept progressing in relative obscurity, playing shows and getting even better.

Did it motivate them or did they even care? I don't think that question has a real answer, but with the upcoming release of Deep River, it doesn't matter. In a few weeks Entire Cities should become well known throughout the blog world, but also has the potential to start grabbing some heavy college radio play. The band has evolved and matured, building on the solid foundation of the EP and flushing out some of the tracks.

You don't have to look any farther than Dancing With My Brother. The original version of this song was a tight, melodic meander that spiked quickly and showcased violin, drums, knee slaps and Simon Borer's rough farmhand testifying vocals. The track (aside from featuring the best chorus in forever - "I'm my brother's snakeskin motherfucker"), it really seemed to be a bar room dance floor stomper that was written to get the crowd dancing.

Now, with the help of Dale Morningstar, the song cranks up the jangle on the electric guitar and feels more flushed out and cohesive. The energy is still there, which makes sense as the band recorded the tracks live on the floor, but Tamara/Ruhee's (I've never seen them live and can't confirm who sings on each track) voice comes through much clearer as does each note the supporting players offer up. The song still moves along at a feverish pace, it just sounds more like a complete chapter instead of a great introductory paragraph. The booming horns act as a riveting conclusion to the emotion, and instead of being open ended, the songs ends nicely.

It's easy to see how playing together over the last year or so has help the band find their comfort zone. Some of the tracks on their EP have been reworked and are much stronger, but the new originals show the growth in song writing. Talkers finds a nice groove from the first strum. Simon's insightful vocals are complimented with a rotating cast of sounds and flourishes. The band adds fuzzy, fragmented horns and a ambitious bass line to balance the guitar work.

Accountant's Dream is another heavy, cymbal crashing track that matches Borer's growl. After a slow intro, the band jumps into the track headlong and when you hear Tamara/Ruhee's angelic voice finish, I'm calling… "to get money wired" the song just clicks. As the fuzzed out cacophony of sounds pushes the limits of structure, it's amazing to think this energy was transferred to the studio. You feel like you should be pushing forward with a pint in the air, covered in sweat as you sing along.

The record shifts tempo nicely, as numbers like Cop Song and Turbines show a softer side of the band. Simon's narrative is engaging (as you picture the uncomfortable awkwardness of a girl forced to hope her touchy uncle keeps his "god damned hands to himself"), and the quick bursts and singing saw really make this song more accessible than you'd think. The band keeps it interesting with a drum solo, but really it’s the vocals that really win you over on this track.

Really, I can't find anything wrong with this record, and more importantly, I don't want to. It's a great showcase of a lesser known Canadian band doing all the right things. They are trying new things, without ever drifting too far into the experimental sounds that often bog down these type of records. The graceful piano and strings of The Woods are fantastic, but somehow fit well when you compare it to the more energetic bar room tracks that start the record. Almost anyone will be able to find a track that speaks to them, and I can only imagine what happens when they start clicking on stage.

[MP3]:: Dancing With My Brother
MP3]:: The Woods

They are heading East with The Rural Alberta Advantage and making a stop in Halifax. This show is one not to miss::
Fri Feb 22nd - Halifax - Gus' Pub


Posted at 1:09 PM by ack :: 3 comments

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At 11:42 AM, Anonymous matthew did sayeth:

This just arrived in my inbox this morning...I was really excited about it before, and now, after reading your review, I'm even more excited.


At 8:15 PM, Blogger simon did sayeth:

I should probably point out that it's 'Dale' Morningstar we recorded with. I'm pretty happy with everything else you said *blush*.


At 8:21 PM, Blogger ack did sayeth:

Ha ha... Getting a great producer's name right is something you'd think we'd want to do.... Our lack of standards gets more obvious almost every day :)


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