I’ve yet to go to the Canadian prairies. I hear they’re vast, with wide skies, long roads and friendly people. I have some great friends from those parts, who feed me lovely stories. While most say land like that can be boring, I’ve always wondered about going there. Last week I met some other Saskatonians, those touring for Slow Down, Molasses. They have a band name that most could pair with the thought of prairies, but their music is a guide to the interesting routes only they know.
This collective released their second album, Walk into the Sea, on March 15. It has nine lush songs, each full of instruments that flutter in and out or swell up like a gorgeous sunrise. Sometimes with everything together it can sound a bit messy, but there’s beauty in that. The highlighting of horns and strings whether together or separate always shines light on songs heralded by fuzzy guitars.
“Bodies,” the longest song clocking in at almost seven minutes, boasts soft siren-like female back-up vocals and soothing guitars and then half-way through, switches to lullaby-like strings that build up into something more worthy of a story book’s climax. “Late Night Radio” is the group’s indie rock hit, but I find the stream of “Feathers,” “Wake Me Up at the Coast” and “Light” together are the album’s true winners. “Feathers” is a bit more country with nice vocal pairing of one of the group’s singers, Tyson McShane, with Julie Doiron. “Wake Me Up at the Coast” gains great momentum, like you’re running happily in a movie montage, plus you can really feel the fun that went into making this, especially when the guitar changes half-way and kicks things up a notch. “Light” is a gorgeous, female vocal-led (who I believe to be miss Jeans Boots) trek. It makes me think of weaving through a forest at night with a flickering lantern, and it all comes to a point when she sings “the hardest part of being a light is knowing you’ll go dim. So hurry to make a mark for all the places you’ve been.” It’s also worthy to note some of the cool production work that they’ve employed on vocals, especially in this song.
Honestly though, there is so much to absorb with this album. It’s taken me many listens to feel like I even skimmed the surface of what I was hearing. There are a lot of members in the group; though six tour, there are easily a handful more on the album and who play the hometown shows. Even Olenka and the Autumn Lovers have contributions here, and James Bunton of Ohbijou mixed it. Each member’s part builds off someone else’s, and it just keeps revolving. It’s nice to listen to on a sunny walk, but you’ll gain more out of the experience if you can sit down with it.
Seeing them live is something else, where you get the full blast of instrumentation and frienliness. See it for yourself tonight at the Garrison, where they’ll play with Kite Hill and Forest City Lovers. $10, doors at 9.