Saturday, 31 August 2013

If You're Going to Listen to One Indie Band This Year - Make it Highs!

I don’t even know how to begin to explain my excitement over this band.  They’ve released one self-titled EP with a total of five songs and I am literally jumping up and down with excitement over it as I type this!  The band is composed of 5 musicians from all over Canada and has a fresh, modern sound with an unexpected afro-beat inclusion.  I previously wrote about Little Comets and I was talking about how they had some unwelcome genre changes with a few songs that I didn’t think flowed with the rest of their album or their work.  Sometimes, artists should just stick to what they know.  Unless you’re Highs… and you apparently know everything!

To prove this, I’ll go through each song on their EP and you won’t believe that I’m talking about the same band!

“Summer Dress” is a summer anthem, no question.  It’s cheerful, catchy, and romantic and honestly sounds like the beach.  Don’t ask me what “sounds like the beach” actually means, as I won’t be able to give you an answer… but it really does!  It starts off with a Foals-style guitar intro that leads into a quick and up-beat percussion.  Bands like The White Stripes and She & Him have developed the modern duet.  In this song, Highs introduce their fresh take on that, with a trio comprised of lead singer Doug Haynes, Karrie Douglas and Joel Harrower.

The first Highs song that I heard was “Nomads” and I think it’s their most beautiful song to date.  The stunning duet between Haynes and Douglas demonstrates their highly compatible vocals weaving together in a crescendo to the final chorus of “Yeah, I know it hurts you when I’m leaving, but I must because it’s something I believe in”.  Their lyrics are simple, yet powerful; the true sign of a fantastic songwriter.  Also, prepare to have “Give it up” echoing in your head after a few listens!  Probably not that best message, but catchy nonetheless.

“Harvest” slows things down even more with a dreamy intro, only to break into a catchy indie-pop beat about halfway through.  The control demonstrated in the vocals here is really incredible.  If you’re not already a fan at this point in the EP, then music probably isn’t for you.  Just kidding, but how could you not be?!

Even though “Fleshy Bones” sounds nothing like TV Girl, the combination of the lyrics and melody reminded me of them.  This is because the dramatic nature of the lyrics, where the narrator is questioning every aspect of their relationship and the alternative motives that their partner has for staying with them, while retaining a poppy, up-beat melody.  I absolutely love when bands do this and I think it’s such a cool way to present a dark theme.

“Cannibal Coast” is a perfect song to conclude this EP as it really encompasses Highs' style, tone, and most importantly, skill.  The arrangement is beautiful and the vocals are addictive.

A lot of new music today begins as catchy, but soon becomes repetitive and boring the more you listen to it.  Highs have produced an EP full of songs that need to be listened to over and over again in order to appreciate intricate aspects that aren’t apparent at first listen.

Highs epitomize everything that I love about music and I can’t wait to follow their career and see what they do next!  Their music is available for free, here, but it's an EP that's really worth buying and a band that's worth supporting!

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