Friday, December 10, 2010

Strike While It's Hot

Sometimes it feels like everyone and their Aunt is in a band they want you to hear, come out and watch live, or buy the album of. This is all fine and dandy, because all music is worth a shot and all friends deserve the support. But, every now and again – one of those bands really blows you away. And, instead of plugging in the headphones in front of your friend and faking thumbs-up as you listen to them awkwardly trip around their instruments and fumble notes, you look to that friend of yours in awe and say, “Holy s**t. It’s actually so good.”

That’s the category Toronto-based Wildlife fell into. My best male friend and tether ball rival since the age of 11 has an equally artistically-inclined older brother named Tim, who became part of their cousin’s band only a few years ago. The hype grew, the songs developed – and from first listen, it was obvious that their sound and dynamic was really something else. They didn’t reek of immaturity and artistic confusion – they had a musical notion, a particular noise about them, something that would inevitably set them aside from other bands attempting desperately to sound just like the rest.

Although they’ve been performing, recording and songwriting since their inception, their debut EP was released this week. This Arcade Fire-sounding compilation and set list have become actual tangible entities that get stuck in listener's heads – and I couldn’t be more proud. Everything from the look and attitude of the band to the album artwork says they’re ready. They’re ready to stop being modest.

On the debut album Strike Hard, Young Diamond, the opening song "Stand in the Water" is absolutely my favourite track. It’s punchy, hurried garage guitar lays the foundation for the equal parts playful and compelling indie melody. The youthful urgency in lead singer Dean Povinsky’s voice was meant for this mighty and romantic tune. Make what you will of the meaning, but one thing is for sure, you won’t be able to get the repetition of the line “Well, just as long as you’re looking for me,” out of your head for days. An anthem for young lovers and rebels everywhere, the collective sing-a-long and jumpy instruments strike me as more on the beautiful side than anything else.

A mixture of the summer fun of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the young-at-heart angst of The Cure, Wildlife's sugary 1980s resemblances layered overtop pumped-up rock performances will leave you wanting more. An optimistic-sounding concoction of choir-esque moments and indie-pop breakdowns in “Move to the City” and “When I Get Home” flawlessly reveal the vocal abilities and instrumental energy that brews inside each member. Similarly, if you ever get the chance to check out a Wildlife show, you’ll discover this yourself – they won’t rest until everyone is sweating, until we’ve all learned the words and until the venue is coated in a thick fog of liveliness and feelings of youthful self-rule.

They even had the nerve to send me into a state of comatose nirvana when they played a live pop-punky spin on The Boss’ “Dancing in the Dark,” which is easily one of my favourite songs of all time. What were they trying to do to me? Kill me? I had already sweat out everything in my system and almost lost my voice, and then that cover happened to close out the show – a moment of psychotic jumping and scream-singing I will never forget.

So, with that – I urge you to go for a walk on the Wildlife side of things. You’ll feel young, happy, and part of the next big thing.


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