Cool off with Canadian Indie
The weather isn’t all that’s cool in Canada. Over the years, the Great White North has produced a handful of prolific artists; among them are Rush, Leonard Cohen, and even Drake. Now added to the list are acoustic troupe City and Colour and indie-rockers Born Ruffians, who released their fifth and fourth studio albums this month, respectively.
City and Colour, If I Should Go Before You
City and Colour – the solo project of Canadian singer-songwriter and former Alexisonfire member Dallas Green – is a diverse creative vehicle. Despite having released four studio albums in the last ten years, it remains difficult to pigeonhole the group into any one genre; their influences include folk, soul, and alternative-country.
Album-opener “Woman” is an epic by today’s acoustic standards; clocking in at over nine minutes long, this hypnotic blues track is reminiscent of David Gilmour’s solo work. Green explores blues further in cuts such as “Northern Love” and “If I Should Go Before You.”
Tracks such as “Mizzy C” and “Wasted Love” are edgier and more rock-oriented than the languid vibes that permeate Before You. Together, they serve as two of the record’s knockout tracks.
“Killing Time” borders on R&B. This jazzy cut, as well as the pop-infested “Map of the World,” are striking compared to the album’s heavy blues influence.
The slow, somber “Blood” serves as an excellent album-closer, rounding out the record’s atmospheric yet diverse mood. Green’s vocal talent is noteworthy, permeating the record with its smoky quality.
Ultimately, Before You is a veritable smorgasbord of assorted musical genres that both soothes and electrifies.
Born Ruffians, RUFF
Over the past decade, Born Ruffians have gradually developed their quirky, clever style. In Ruff, the Canadian indie outfit skillfully combines the youthful energy of their previous work with newer, more mature songwriting elements.
“Stupid Dream” is a frenetic piece of jangle-pop perfection, and easily counts as one of RUFF’s standout tracks. Lead singer Luke LaLonde’s voice is versatile, coping with both the bouncy (“Don’t Live Up”) as well as the biting (“When Things Get Pointless I Roll Away”).
“& On & On & On” echoes the preppy indie sound of Vampire Weekend, while “We Made It” echoes the rollicking ‘90s pop of Supergrass.
“Shade to Shade” is a boisterous post-punk album-closer that elevates, sounding more like the closing triumphant theme to a celluloid sensation than anything else.
At times, RUFF’s abrasive lyrics make it easy to believe that Born Ruffians consists of fourteen year-olds. At others, the album’s mature sound reveals the band’s professional progress. Altogether, the record serves as one of 2015’s supreme indie releases.