Monday, March 14, 2011

En Route To The Station

If and when I have been given the opportunity to check out a band I love, really admire, or feel a strong connection to – I usually have the desire to go alone unless the people I’m with are equally as fond. There’s nothing worse than being overly excited to hear a band live and you’ve pushed yourself right near the front - only to have your guest be uninterested, unappreciative of the music and just waiting for the chance to call it a night.

So, on Saturday night I brought a friend to watch Toronto rising rock gentlemen Bravestation play downtown as openers for Vancouver-based Young Galaxy. I wasn’t sure what his reaction was going to be, seeing as he’s not really the most indie or new age-savvy of listeners. That being said, he does love hearing new things. I could tell within the first two songs, however, that their Brit-pop spunk and contagious experimental melodies stretched far past any audience members' biases – Bravestation were an infectious force that called everyone in the venue aboard.

After hearing the opening anthem “Clocks and Spears”, and seeing how it ignited a flame beneath the crowd, he was instantly hooked. And, so was I, but more so because I was already familiar with their innovative songs and even had the pleasure of speaking with the down-to-earth sweethearts earlier that afternoon. From first strum, first strike of the synthesizer keys, and first wail of lead singer Derek Wilson’s creative voice – anyone who hadn’t heard Bravestation before, knew they were in the presence of something they would be buying into after.

Composed and calm while still enjoying the party on stage, this group really does exude wisdom beyond their years. Their new wave funky melodies are jumpy and multi-faceted, a sound that will make you move in your seat and strain to hear the meaning simultaneously. Something about a group of young twenty-something attractive males from the small city of Brockville, who have managed to re-create a sound made popular by The Smiths and The Doors, really gets your attention.

The band, whose name is partly derived from a Robert J. Hastings essay about “living in the now” and “enjoying the path” on the way to finding “The Station”, have big goals on the itinerary as well as novel approaches to achieving them. They’ve efficiently taken on the responsibility of honouring old concepts while crafting new sounds – a feat that probably wasn’t the easiest growing up in tiny Eastern Ontario.

“Growing up there as a musician, you gravitate towards things that will take you elsewhere,” says Devin Wilson, guitarist and one-half of the Wilson brotherhood. “So, we started to enjoy experimenting with sounds and were liberated by the opportunity to try new things. We’re taking advantage of everything available in this day and age.”

Now based out of Toronto, some of the band is working and some are still in school – which makes this whole up-and-coming rocker bit an interesting juggle. Studies, shifts and grinding away at a debut full-length to follow up their acclaimed EP makes young adulthood less than normal for this quartet.

“We’re recording right now and have plans to get ready for our two-week European tour,” says Derek. “As much as we’re enjoying our glorified hobby, I wouldn’t say we’ve got too much free time.”

However, the tribal tropical sound they're going to blend into the experimental indie rock foundation they’ve laid, promises to make the blood, sweat and Brockville-boredom worth their while. The EP brought us bundles of delicious indie rock including “Colour Us With Youth”, a charming urban melody that’s threaded together by their creamy layered croons, sparkling guitar hooks and a shifting theme. Similarly, the band’s uncanny and modern spin on The Talking Heads' classic “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” is a perfect depiction of the original – contemporary while admiring the memorable elements, something you’ll hear in Andrew Heppner’s wonderfully comparable keys.

And, when they aren’t out there pounding the pavement and doing grassroots promotion, these guys have nailed an integral advantage of their age – being social media savvy, digitally accessible and willing to use the great modern marketing equalizer known as the world wide web.

“In the future we plan to be rehearsing and writing all the time, but while we’re here recording and leading these other lives as well – we’re lucky to have the ability to interact.”

Days spent at Canadian Music Week, a few conversations with Kevin Drew, an in-store performance at Sonic Boom and an upcoming June stint in Europe – you could say they’ve done a grand job of working the preliminary musical circuit. This kind of blossoming success, after forming in only 2009, leaves me nothing but eager to see what two years from now will hold for this mature group of plainly nice and modest young men.

Talking with them made their reiteration of David Byrne’s famous hollers ring true – as they seem to play “never for money, always for love”, while still living the dream. I wish these boys the best of luck pushing towards “The Station” - something tells me they are making the most of the ride, and aren’t far from the platform.


Check out and expect Bravestation's new album in fall 2011.

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