CENTURY THIEF – EP Review: “Deaf Beneath the Waves”

Century Thief is a six-piece indie folk/rock band based in Toronto, Canada.  Drawing from influences like Broken Social Scene, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Wilco, and Elliott Smith, they’ve developed a melodic, unconventional and captivating sound. Thanks to an impressive array of instrumentation, including brass, woodwinds, keys, guitars, bass and drums, as well as lush vocal harmonies, their music has a rich orchestral quality, yet is very accessible and down to earth. A sound engineer in Montreal once described their sound as “trash lounge folk prog rock” – a fitting description they liked so much they use it in their bio.

Century Thief

Century Thief is comprised of Michael Legere (guitar and vocals), Kathryn Kearns (keys, woodwinds and vocals), Omar Shabbar (guitar and vocals), Dante Matas (bass), Adam Reid (brass) and Colin McNally (drums). They released their debut EP Reverie in 2015, and this May dropped their stunning new EP Deaf Beneath the Waves. The band provided a bit of background about the EP to webzine Live in Limbo: “Deaf Beneath the Waves is about coming to terms with your place in the world. The songs interrogate past patterns of behavior, and struggle to light a path forward. The EP is a nostalgic inquiry into mortality, futility and the desire to find meaning and purpose in life and love. It was recorded at a farmhouse in Madoc, Ontario.”

The first track “406” is a hauntingly beautiful but melancholy song about acknowledging the hurt one has caused another in a relationship, and wanting forgiveness and a second chance: “How could I mess up this bad? Please forget these mistakes I have. And I can’t stop thinking about you.” The track starts off with an enchanting, almost magical intro, with delicate xylophone and strings, then acoustic guitar and keyboards are gradually added along with lovely harmonizing vocals. The instrumentals expand to include moody trumpet, fluttering flute and smooth percussion as the track builds to a climax. It’s a gorgeous song whose melody stayed with me long afterwards.

You Are Here” is a beautifully moving track with a bit of a jazzy vibe. Lovely keyboards and trumpets take a starring role, and Legere’s vocals are really wonderful as he sings about feeling unsure of how to continue in the relationship: “I’ve been pacing around the same ideas. Haven’t worked before, this time I’m not sure.” The backing vocal harmonies are sublime.

The band states that the third track “Science of Solace” is “about waking up submerged in a lake and deciding whether to return to the surface, to grow some gills and start a new life, or just sink into the next world.” It has more of a pop song feel, with Kathryn’s charming vocals dominating, backed with an extended horn riff, pleasing tempo and some discordant synth sounds.

All three tracks are marvelous, and over far too quickly. Century Thief is an amazingly talented group of musicians, and we need to hear more of their innovative music, hopefully soon!

Connect with Century Thief:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  Bandcamp / iTunes

KNIFEY – Album Review: “beached”

beached cover art

I love musicians with a sense of humor, especially when they also make terrific music. Toronto, Canada-based foursome KNIFEY fills the bill quite nicely. Describing themselves on their Twitter page as ‘drinking and drunk at all the wrong places,’ they play high energy lo-fi surf rock with a healthy dose of punk. Bringing all this joyful noise to our eardrums are Max Trinz (vocals, guitar), Ammar Karam (drums), Kyle Marcovecchio (bass) and Phil Linton (guitar).

KNIFEY
Photos by Mike Mangov

At the end of September, the guys dropped their debut album beached, a collection of eight exuberant tracks that will have you leaping about with abandon while wistfully remembering that summer romance and days spent on the beach. In their press info, KNIFEY explains that beachedis a window into the seemingly endless juggling of relationships and responsibility that is big city living. The songs were meant to be straightforward and honest, and the work’s essence is fun and upbeat. Lyrically, the songs cope with the trials of growing up, the coming and going of relationships, and express a weariness with the city’s hedonistic bar culture. Pervading both the sound and lyrics is a nostalgia for summertime and for the beach, and a reckless optimism that that simpler life might be just around the corner.”

KNIFEY3

It’s a short album, clocking in at a mere 21 minutes, but it packs a hell of a punch. Opening track “Beached Lightning” arrives with a burst of explosive percussion and a frenzy of gritty guitars. It’s a rousing head banger tailor made for a psycho beach party, and I loved it at first listen. The high energy level is sustained throughout the entire album, with no let up in the frantic riffs and galloping percussion. “Rio” serves up jangly surf guitars hovering over a bouncy bass line.

Next up is the hard-driving punk gem “Sophie,” the first single released in advance of the album. Max fervently sings to the imaginary Sophie, telling her he misses her and pleading for her to get back together with him:

I want to run to California, I need some energy in my life
I want to feel the beach beat, hear the drums pounding in the night
I’m never gonna make it there when you’re screaming in my ear
I’m falling to pieces baby, help me out here

The delightful video produced for the song features lots of pet reptiles at play, including lizards, iguanas, geckos, snakes and turtles, along with a few bewildered cats, dogs and burros.

Serf” is a play on words, describing both the roiling surf guitar riffs and the singer’s desire to serve his girl. Punk rock grooves are abundant on “Weekend” and “Tanlines,” both of which feature some amazing rapid-fire riffage. “Summer Girl” is a great track about a summer love affair. The song starts off boisterous, but ends at a languid pace as Max sings about how good he feels when he’s with his girl.

Long Lost Dreams” is the most poignant track on the album, with more of a rock vibe, thanks to an abundance of shredded and plucky guitars and heavier bass. The bittersweet lyrics speak to the sad realization that your dream relationship has ended:

You were fuckin’ living, I was out with the boys
Now I’m stumbling home to you with glazed-over eyes
Call me young and stupid, we all know it’s a lie
Are you done with your toy, are you done with your toy?
These are long lost dreams on a Saturday night
They’re all gone, they’re all gone…

The song symbolizes a return to the cold realities of life, and is a fitting close to the album’s theme.

Connect with KNIFEY:  Facebook / Twitter/ Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud
KNIFEY are offering beached as a free download on Bandcamp

Single Review: MIDDAY SWIM – “Hold On Tight”

Toronto, Ontario, Canada has a thriving music scene, and I’ve featured a good number of artists and bands based there on this blog. Indie dream pop-rock band Midday Swim is my most recent find, and I’m happy to feature their gorgeous new single “Hold on Tight.” The band combines exceptional, multi-layered guitar work, smooth keyboards, superb percussion and lush vocals to create music that’s both dynamic and sublime.

Midday Swim consists of five seasoned musicians: David Mitchell (lead vocals, guitars), Stephan Ermel (keyboards, vocals), Sebastian Shinwell (guitar, vocals), Craig Saltz (bass, vocals) and Max Trefler (drums). Several were previously involved with other bands, while Saltz has scored music for over 30 films, and Ermel is a classically-trained pianist who’s performed a number of one man shows. They formed as a band in 2014 and a year later released their self-titled debut EP Midday Swim, which is excellent and I highly recommend my readers check it out. 

They’ve now recorded new music for their follow-up EP Climbing Out of Caves, due out later this year. “Hold on Tight,” recently released on May 4, is the first single from that EP.

Midday Swim

The bittersweet song is a plea for a loved one not to give up on a relationship by recalling poignant memories of their youth. With heartfelt vulnerability in his lovely vocals, Mitchell sings: “Hold on tight to me, can you reach before our boat goes down? All that time while we were sinking, I thought of what you meant when you said lets behave like we were those bear cubs climbing out of caves like we were made for this./ You better find your way home.”

Musically, the song features beautiful jangly guitars, backed by warm synths and lots of crashing cymbals. Delicate keyboards can be heard throughout, and at the bridge, we’re treated to a brief but tasty shredded guitar solo. Mitchell’s soothing vocals are backed up by sweet harmonic choruses.

For the clever, beautifully-filmed video, the band and director Pedja Milosavlijevic found inspiration from films like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Pulp Fiction, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, with their intrigue and crazy plot twists. Both the song and video aim to capture the spirit of childhood, with the main character on an adventure into the mountains, carrying his red suitcase and escaping a bear. He ultimately ends up back with his other band mates, whereupon they all jump into the opened suitcase.

To learn more about Midday Swim, check out their website.

Follow them on Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify /  Soundcloud /  YouTube
Purchase:  iTunes /  Amazon