The Shallow Seas
God of Fire
Canadian band of brothers; "three upstanding gentlemen", bring their infusing rock wonder to your door.
God of Fire is available at:
The E.P. Into The Barrow is available at:
INTERNATIONAL flavours, and foreign sounds, is a diversity.....
that seems subjugated and mandated heavily, on the shore of the U.K. I have long-suspected that in Britain, the music media concerns themselves too overtly with home-grown talent and influence. It is myopic and frankly stupefying to think that the best new music in the world today solely emanates from the U.K. We have a great deal of hungry and agile artists, each of whom proffer diverse and adventurous steps. A wide range of genres are covered, and the long-forgotten likes of doo-wop and swing are being reinvigorated, and given retro reconsideration. Our northern rock and indie acts blend hard-edged grunge overtones, with some more subtle and sophisticated movements. Towards Scotland, there are blues and pop artists whom are promising greater gleams of gold; purer diamonds with fewer rough edges. In fact, were one to sift through the murky and muddy waters of commercialism; negate their path through the sludge of generic and unwanted musical players, then there is a lot of good waiting to be discovered. The bigger issue is, that there is too much below-par and whelming mediocrity; most of which is being put on a pedestal, and proclaimed as the best thing since...well, you know. In my blog, and one these pages, I have been reviewing artists that have been missed by the media's glare, and managed to elude the spotlight. It is those artists whom are the ones to watch; as it seems that what is being promoted by the music pages and press, is certainly nothing to get excited about. It is the best and brightest from the last decade that are still able to elicit the biggest headlines, and gain the most ardent approval and ardour. This year, Queens of the Stone Age, The National, Laura Marling and Daft Punk have turned in the most celebrated albums; each one received (and continues to receive) overwhelming praise and adulation; and it makes one wonder: where do the new acts and artists fit in? In 2013 so far, a few brand new talents have managed to make some sort of dent and impact; yet by-and-large there are a lot of sapling steps and fledgling moves, but no real challenge to the established guard. This is understandable I guess: it is hard to be that good right out of the blocks. I suspect that and know for a fact that were one to turn their heads and attention to foreign climbs and over international waters, then a semblance of restoration and reappropriation is tangible. Recently I have been championing many international acts. Multinational composites and Swedish disco-pop outfit have been amongst them, as well as Australian rock warriors and Irish folk joy. It is across the U.S. and Canada that fresher and bolder sounds are being created. L.A. is unveiling some sunshine-infused pop and electronic acts; The Open Feel are amongst them. Even in the short spaces that lie between Burbank and LAX (well, 29 miles), multitudinous range is to be found. In New York and Seattle traditional rock, punk and grunge sounds are still available; yet have been updated and redefined to draw in the 21st century crowd. in-between the divide in the Midwestern region, less anxious and more seditious pleasures are being experimented with: which result in invigorating folk/rock hybrids. Further north, and The Great White North we arrive at Canada.
I have always been a big fan of Canada and their musical heritage. Whilst they are subjected to a lot of ribbing and teasing by the U.S.- America needs to cool it somewhat the Canadians have always had a different approach to music. The heritage and mixed landscape; French quarters mingle alongside vast beautiful plains, enforces the creative mind of the musical participants. Legends such as Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell hail from Canada, and are to my mind, three of the best songwriters of all time. Were Bob Dylan to be discovered Canadian and you would have a holy quarter right there. Factor out cosmic farts such as Celine Dion and Michael Buble, then the country has a rich background. If it weren't for Justin Bieber almost single-handedly threatening to tarnish Canada's good name, then more ears and eyes would be focused here. It is those legendary '60s and '70s solo legends, that have had a big impact on the modern crop of musicians. Young's folk brilliance, Cohen's darker and poetic edges, and Mitchell's lighter but no less potent sounds, have been elongated, de-emphasized and blended into the palettes of the new young elite. The Shallow Seas are a band that are a convivial wrecking ball of intention. Having amounted a modest Facebook following, and a more impressive Twitter support; their online appreciation and fandom is expanding. Jasper, Vincent and Steve are our intrepid trio, and have been on the scene since 2012; bringing their psychedelic/blues rock/garage rock and classic rock blend from their native Toronto, all across Canada and North America. Whilst their online biography remains bare-boned (one suspects they are letting the music paint the words), the group have an impressive online coverage, making their music readily available, as well as ensuring that there is plenty of anticipation for the future. The three-piece's E.P. Into The Barrow, released in March, is a 5-track opus which deftly distills the band's essence and influences into a hotchpotch of myriad sounds and electricity; bolstered by a tight and consistent performance throughout. whilst the band have some exciting (fairly local) dates in the pipeline and a busy future lying ahead, they have a sound and ready-made appeal that could and should be passionately embraced by the U.K, Europe and Australia. Their rock blends, with blues, psychedelic and classic tones are present on these shores, yet not too overly-familar or overindulged. Us in the U.K. could certainly do with some Canadian influence; and one suspects that once the media here get a taste; they will then become less fixated on the beige middle-ground, and appreciate outside of the box- which is a long-overdue necessity, trust me!
Into The Barrow's second track God of Fire, is a track which caught my attention. Whilst Songbird, I Smell Smoke, Bad Feeling and Many Faces display all the merits and colours that the band have spent years honing, it is the rumbles and kicks of God of Fire, which excites the most. It is a track which begins with some slightly fuzzy, hazy and fiery electric guitar strums; evoking reminiscences of '60s legends such as The Kinks as well as punk icons such as The Clash. A jumping and swaying electric strum is met with a pattering and pounding percussive roll, which has classic rock intentions as well as hinting at the blues rock of the '90s (think of Detroit's The White Stripes-cum-The Clash). Energy and pogo strut is favoured in the intro; which is intended to inflame and intoxicate: the effect is one that makes you want to get up and dance for sure. With a razor's edge as well as more utilitarian swathes, the sound is original and fresh, yet has those components which harks your mind back to past eras and bands. The propellent swathe of sound is slowed down to allow our frontman to enter the fray. His voice is steeped in modern energies and annunciation, yet is not a voice that you can readily compare to anyone elses the band have an authentically original coda. Early words speak thus: "The river runs through your veins"; bristling guitar augments and supports the imagery and emotive vocal, as our hero proffer: "Feel the tingling sensation". Vivid and bold imagery is projected quite deftly: probably not surprising given the song's title. The band want to consecrate and realise what they are trying to say, as well as build imagery in your mind. The voice that sermonises and stands above the atmosphere variegated; at once energetic and youthful, the next, more lip-licking and come-hither. The band as a whole show their tightness and intuit, when the verse ends and they whip up some fire. psychedelic brimstone guitars; part Hendrix, part The Stooges marries; at once menacing and intense, the next hypnotic and embracing. The percussion keeps the spine tight and taut, and keeps the mood levelled and restrained, whilst the kicking riff makes its mark. As the next verse arrives, speaking of dragons, mysticism and sensations "For now and evermore"; the energy and potency does not drop- the band keep the fascination high throughout. As our frontman takes a brief pause after his latest thesis, a further wave of sonic clout is unfurled. The low and anomalistic rumblings have heavy rock and punk overtones, whilst the wah-wah riff- a jerkwater berg on fire-has elements of Eddie Vedder, Kim Thayil and Eric Clapton: you can almost hear those gods of the shred pricking their ears to The Shallow Sea's harbours. The group have a great kinship and galvanised sound, which manages to draw in elements of blues, rock and psychedelia, yet never lose focus. Guitar, bass and percussive work is exemplary; able to burst at the seams one moment, and restrain and linger the next. As I mentioned, the energy and excitement never really let up, and never does the sound appear cluttered at all. Each player plays their part expertly and are able to whip up a potent brew in under two and a half minutes.
It has been a few days since I 'discovered' The Shallow Seas, and happened across their Into The Barrow E.P. The guys have a sound oft-promising but seldom-delivered in the music scene. A great deal of bands (and especially new acts) tend to struggle when mixing blues and rock sounds, tending to make their tracks too long or unfocused. The trio from Toronto have a talent for conviction when needed. Although Many Faces runs in at 07:49, and I Smell Smoke is 04:14, the songs never outstay their welcome or become unfocused: everything seems just right in hindsight. It is true that a lot of British acts are doing their utmost to make an impact in an overcrowded and fickle scene; yet of the vast scores that go to war, few make it through alive (as heroes). The media in the U.K. are culpable of being amongst the world's most fickle; setting unrealistic expectations of new music, whilst simultaneously being quick with the boot at the slightest slip or transgression. Of the new acts I have heard recently, few originate from London: the largest cities seem to have a glut of appropriate talent; dropping the ball somewhat. It is away from the bustle and city life that one finds the best sounds and sensations in the U.K. Until a better and more economic way have been found, to separate the wheat from the chaff, one thing is for clear: look abroad, please. As well as the great European flair, and U.S. strikes, elsewhere there are plenty of great bands and acts whom can win your thoughts. If Canada has not seemed like the best musical holiday destination; then think again. Historically the country has produced some of the greatest songwriters of all time, and in the modern age (aside from the nauseating pop muppets), there is plenty of potential and lustre. The Shallow Seas are, ironically, in deep and dangerous waters: ensconced in a music scene that is awash with venom and hostility. Their sounds and sights supercede expectations and should ensure that they have a long and rewarding regency. For fans of blues rock, '60s psychedelia, punk, as well as classic rock, there is much to offer here. Their tracks are filled with stark metaphor, striking imagery, and plenty of personable heart and sensitivity. Words, themes and intentions are wrapped around the electric storms that the band summon; meaning that one comes away breathless but pleased. Their music is free, and will probably not shift from your head for quite a while. And in truth:
HOW many bands can you say that about?