Last week, we highlighted some great artists emerging out of Edmonton, but Saskatoon shouldn’t be overlooked. Joni Mitchell calls the Saskatchewan city home; most people know shaggy rockers The Sheepdogs; and Andy Shauf is making a name for himself. Now comes Slow Down Molasses.

Formed back in 2006, Tyson McShane, Jeanette Stewart, Chrix Morin, Levi Soulodre, and Aaron Scholz originally treated the project more as a hobby, releasing a handful of tracks. It wasn’t until a few years ago when the quintet started to take the band more seriously, and in 2012 they released their debut LP, Walk Into the Sea. Then two years later, they shared a new single “Summer Sun”, which was picked up by notable sites such as The Line Of Best Fit and Noisey and would form the basis of their new album.

Unlike many musicians releasing the first or second albums, there is a noticeable maturity in the band’s songwriting and lyrics, which likely has to do with the band being a bit older (now, they’re not that old) and having played together for nearly a decade. Slow Down Molasses don’t write songs that wallow in despair or that are fraught with the pain and angst of a broken heart. They’re not creating music that will blow you away with over-driven beats or that solely depend on one or two chords or a single riff. Instead, they are sharing messages through the stories they tell. The music, meanwhile, is purposefully crafted in order to illicit different responses and feelings in the listener. All of this is heard on their sophomore album Burnt Black Cars, which is terrific concept album that is cohesive from start to finish and has a cinematic quality that will leave you breathless at one moment and completely overwhelmed at other points.

The album focuses on today’s complex and complicated world and how an individual can respond with the subtext of individuality, hope, and living each and every day. These messages and the band’s varied sound are best demonstrated on the title track and “City Sublet”. The former starts off with a slow, brooding tone that complements McShane’s deadpan vocals and story of apathy, chaos, and protest before transitioning into a fantastic three-minute, shoegaze jam. The latter is a streamline, stunning song with McShane and Stewart sharing the vocal duties, singing about the aftermath of the chaos and the hope and optimism that a new day brings.

The aforementioned “Summer Sun” strikes a new chord in the album. It’s the most upbeat song and could be the anthem for those who will be spending time at the cottage and the lake. But within the album, the song speaks to taking chances and not holding back because who knows what the next day will bring. “Stay Still” is the juxtaposition to “Summer Sun’s” frenetic pace and presents a complete change in approach. With Stewart handling the lead vocals, the song is edges more towards synth-pop and electro-rock, echoing of the early works of The Raveonettes, who masterfully depicted the struggles and challenges of adolescence.

On the terrific rocker, “Don’t Forget Your Youth”, the protagonists of the album have grown older and find some stability. However, McShane beckons them to not settle down but to continue to live freely and without constraint like when they were younger. It might also be a message that he may telling himself and those around him, that we only live one so live each day to its fullest. The song is also the lead-in to the breathtaking and spectacular “Home”, a song about home being anything and anywhere we want and it’s not always in the place we thought it was. “Underneath the Cobblestones” – the 5-minute, shoegaze, instrumental closer – brings the album to its final resting place. And while it is serene and solemn, the song is atmospheric and uplifting, as if Slow Down Molasses is indicating that life hasn’t ended but a new one has just begun.

For McShane, Stewart, Morin, Soulodre, and Scholz, it seems they have found their second chance, and they’re taking advantage of this new opportunity to share their music and their messages. With Black Burnt Cars, the world will quickly discover Saskatoon’s gem of a band.

Black Burnt Cars is being distributed by Culvert Music. Get the album on iTunes and Amazon.

Website –
Facebook – Slow Down Molasses
Twitter – @SlowdownMolasse

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