Whether it’s the orchestral pop and the new folk-rock of the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver, the innovative takes of psychedelia and hip hop in the United Kingdom, the art-punk and brooding rock of Brooklyn, or the roaring psych-rock of the southern US, independent artists across the globe are pushing the boundaries on music. They are changing the ways people listen and interpret music, and challenging listeners to open their minds.
In Montreal, experimentalism is king. Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, SUUNS, Wolf Parade, Patrick Watson, and The Besnard Lakes are just some of the bands that have led the wave of experimental bands out of the southern Quebec metropolis, where North America meets Europe, where a variety of cultures gather, and where individuality and uniqueness are celebrated. This culture of openness and acceptance has allowed many young bands to flourish, including Ought.
Born in 2012 from a collective of students studying at McGill University – from Australia and the US – Ought was established at the time of a student movement that protested against proposed government tuition hikes. This student solidarity movement is heard in Ought’s debut LP, More Than Any Other Day, which is at times chaotic, frenetic, and impulsive, but put together it is a mind-blowing journey about youthful angst, naivete, and discovery.
The influences and sounds of the album are varied across generations and genres. The opener “Pleasant Heart” has a Wolf Parade-Wolf People-early Cold War Kids feel with its pulsating, rhythm-section heavy approach and frontman Tim Beeler’s vocals echoing of early Thom Yorke. “Today More Than Any Other Day” revels of grungy Sonic Youth combined with the whimsical lyricism expected from a Pavement album.
“Habit” and “The Weather Song” are more upbeat and Beeler’s vocals taking on the sound of Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The two songs have a feel of the Philadelphia indie rock band with its pop-rock sound and faster tempo.
The more solemn, brooding tunes, “Forgiveness” and “Around Again”, are Joy Division- and Velvet Underground-esque. Meanwhile, “Clarity” is SUUNS-esque – a slow building song that explodes twice with a roaring fit of guitars, drums, and keys. You can hear, however, in the first few notes Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” before the song turns into a spacey number.
Ought comprises of Tim Beeler (lead vocals, guitar), Tim Keen (drums), Ben Stidworthy (bass), and Matt May (keys). They are currently on an extensive tour throughout North America and will head to Europe in the summer. Tour dates can be found on their Facebook page.
SECOND HAND HEART
Second Hand Heart is a dreamy, orchestral-pop band from Melbourne, Australia. The quintet – which comprises of Jessica Carroll, Lily Parker, John Waller, Chris Duffy, and Michael Hanley – recently released their debut LP, Tides. The album is filled with dreamy, subtle, orchestral pop tunes. The music is lush and at times soaring, slowly building momentum throughout the track before the climatic finish.
The entire album is also premised on this approach, and the album is aptly named, as throughout Tides’ 10 tracks the listener is taken on a journey of emotions and experiences. Tides begins with the haunting “Damnesia”, the brooding rock track “Spending My Time”, and then transitioning to the cool, calm, Aimee Mann-like track, “Don’t Look Away”.
“River Ophelia” and “Trouble” are brooding yet soaring, melodic tracks much like The Belle Game’s “River”. The standout track is the closer, “Hold On”, which was released as a single in 2013. It is a cinematic, towering track that creates different emotions – urgency, loss, and hope.
With Tides, Second Hand Heart has created a very good debut LP, which hopefully will be the first major wave of this young band’s career.
You can listen to the entire album below (on Soundcloud). Also included is the sensational video for “Hold On”.
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