Tuesday, October 25th, 2011
100 Mile House
Review of The Darcys’ The Darcys
Aaron MillerThere’s no shortage of variants on the sentiment that good things come to those who wait, but in the case of Toronto’s Darcys, keeping the faith would have been trying for the most steadfast optimists. The specifics of their long, four-year gap between their debut Endless Water and their self-titled follow-up – out today – are still best documented in this Toronto Star feature from back in March, which is also approximately when I got a finished copy of the record to preview. To reiterate: this album was finished and ready for the world in March, and probably even a while before that. And it’s only coming out today.
But to invoke another platitude, was The Darcys worth the wait? Has the band who has been carrying the mantle of potentially being the city’s next big thing for so long that other big things have already come and gone finally delivered on that promise? I give that a very qualified, “yes”. It definitely confirms them as an inordinately talented and ambitious outfit with a gift for dramatic, prog-pop songcraft. With lush keyboards, nimble, complex rhythms, intricately-arranged guitars set to chime and squall, and rough yet soaring vocals from frontman Jason Couse, their sound is evocative of turn of the century Radiohead and Elbow; certainly heady reference points and ones that set them apart from many of their peers.
So why the reservations? Because for as long in coming as this record has been, in the end it still tantalizes more than it satisfies. The Darcys excels at building and teasing out tension but for all the moments of release, be it instrumental or vocal, it doesn’t quite manage to offer that one grand moment that pulls it all together and transcends. It’s essentially what I noted when I saw them in Halifax a year ago, in thinking they were one big chorus away from stardom. That’s a lot to ask of a band, especially on what is for all intents and purposes a debut album, but great artistic ambitions come with great expectations.
That said, it’s important to again note that these songs and this record have been hanging around for a long time and might very well not reflect where The Darcys actually are, circa late 2011. I remain confident that any expectations around the band will still be realized, and possibly sooner than we might expect; to make up for the delay in getting The Darcys out, the band already have two more albums in the can and will be putting them out in the new year. If you consider The Darcys as the first instalment in a trilogy, then it becomes a much more exciting entity as it sets the stage for the sequels. And for all the extra pressure that may put on the band, one suspects that after spending so long waiting for their moment, they’ll relish the opportunity to rise to the challenge.
The Darcys is being made available for free digitally and for sale as an LP; head over to the Arts & Crafts website to download it in exchange for an email address or stream it in whole at Spinner. Additionally, the band has recorded a live video for each song from the album and I’m pleased to be able to premiere the one for the album’s lead-off track, “100 Mile House”. The others will be going up today at a variety of sites around the internet – I’ll update this post with links as I collect them, starting with Exclaim (“Glasnost”), aux.tv (“I Will Be Light”), Baeble Music (“The Mountains Make Way”), Chart (“When I Am New Again”), Spinner (“Shaking Down The Old Bones”), The Line Of Best Fit (“Don’t Bleed Me”), Absolute Punk (“Edmonton To Purgatory”), Wood & Wires (“Des Animeaux”) and CBC Radio 3 (“The Mountains Make Way”). That’s all!
The Darcys play a hometown record release show at The Horseshoe on November 18.
Stream: Kathleen Edwards – “Sidecar”
Stream: Diamond Rings – “Mellow Doubt”
Speaking of tour-only goodies, those hitting up one of Chad VanGaalen’s upcoming shows will be able to pick up one or all of eight cassette-only releases of material from the VanGaalen vaults. You can stream a sampler of the Cassette Tape Series over at Flemish Eye. VanGaalen plays The Mod Club on October 28 and there’s features at The Georgia Straight, Here and hour.
BlogTO catches up with The Balconies, who have just released their new Kill Count EP, though it’s only available at shows. Which means you’ll have to be at The Horseshoe on October 29 if you want to get a copy.
While a touch disappointed that the release of Spectral Dusk, the new record from Evening Hymns has been pushed back from this year until Spring 2012, that’s more than offset by finally being given a taste of the finished product – a new song is streaming over at Facebook.
It’s not really common for books to have soundtracks, but when the book is Have Not Been The Same, the recently-reissued definitive tome on Canadian rock in the ’90s, then it’s almost a necessity. And so it is that come next month, we will have Too Cool To Live; Too Smart To Die, a tribute album featuring current Canadian acts covering songs of the book’s era, including Forest City Lovers tackling Sloan, Great Lake Swimmers saluting Grapes Of Wrath, Bruce Peninsula’s Neil Haverty reinterpreting Rheostatics and much more. A full tracklisting of who does what can be found at Radio Free Canuckistan, blog of one of the book’s authors, and the comp itself will be out digitally on November 15 and be available exclusively via Zunior with all proceeds going to support the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health in Toronto.