A moment to breathe means a moment to blog, and I certainly have a lot to blog about! One thing can certainly be said for NXNE: there’s no shortage of ways to spend hours in search of musical satisfaction. Day 5 coverage will span several entries for reasons that will become more apparent as I go, so stay tuned. I’m only just getting started…
Eight And A Half
First up on my day 5 roster was Eight And A Half, and I was very impressed. Their sound is perhaps best described as a chilled-out version of Muse, and this shouldn’t be any surprise, given the band’s impressive pedigree. Born of a collaboration between Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff, The Stills’ Liam O’Neil and Dave Hamelin, Eight And A Half brings together the best of the Canadian music scene’s flavours and melds them into an irresistible package. Crooning vocals soar over a tapestry of live and electronic drums coupled with minimalistic yet distinctly alt-rock guitars. The result is a band stripped raw, both sonically and lyrically, and a tremendously satisfying live show. I’d like to think that this is what Radiohead could have been if they’d stayed with the fusion of all great worlds on OK Computer and continued to explore that landscape. I shouldn’t be surprised, though: Canada does it better, and Eight And A Half is but one reason why.
If a Phoenix truly emerges from ashes, Eight And A Half is the vibrant bird born of the sudden demise of The Stills and raised by the loving hand of BSS, and is superior for its wisdom and experience. Highly recommended.
Plants And Animals
Another treat during the day’s festivities was checking out Montreal’s Plants And Animals. One can imagine how difficult it is, in light of the tremendous success of Arcade Fire, to stand out and avoid comparison these days. Plants And Animals, however, work hard to distinguish themselves as a different breed.
Blending the languid alt-rock of mellow afternoons with hard-hitting country rock of the Steve Earle ilk, Plants And Animals deliver a show that is robust in sound. Harmonies are satisfying and melodies encourage dancing and drumming fingers on all available surfaces. Elements of blues, prog and folk rock come together with carefully crafted lyrics to create a post-Dylan storyteller style that is highly appealing.
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