I have to admit that I had mixed feelings when Ruh from Vintage asked me to take a listen to her band's new album, Deep River. She's a friend, after all, what if I couldn't find anything nice to say about it?
Pffft. I needn't have worried.
The band, Entire Cities, has been kicking around Toronto and environs for quite a while, but we here in the new centre of the universe have yet to experience them firsthand. And that's a shame, because I understand that their live performances are bordering on legendary.
It's hard to know how to describe Entire Cities' sound, really. When I first started listening to Deep River, I thought yeah, here's a band that is stepping in to fill the void left when Jon-Rae and the River disbanded. But that's not entirely accurate, and neither is it fair to Entire Cities, who really have carved out their own sound. A sound that is rather hard to pigeonhole, as it turns out.
I've heard their music described as psychedelic cowpunk, and that's as good a descriptor as any, I guess. Certainly there are experimental elements in the unique instrumentation and unusual time signatures on songs like Turbine, and there are gloriously unapologetic hoedown singalongs on most of the tracks. Makes me want to see them perform.
Much like Jon-Rae and the River, Entire Cities' sound is based around the larger-than-life voice of the frontman, Simon Borer. His voice booms through the album like a slightly crazed indie lumberjack on a tear, bludgeoning you with lyrics like "I'm my brother's snakeskin motherfucker" in songs like Dancing with My Brother, while moderating into more restrained power in Coffee and in The Woods. There's even a really great building song, Waiting, and you know I am a sucker for a song that builds and builds. This one is really satisfying, full of horns and full-frontal harmonies, receding again to end in a restrained plinking of piano and a chorus of "waiting... waiting".
Deep River grows on me more with each listen. It's deeply satisfying music, full of raw harmonies that conjure up images of backwoods drinking parties. I think it's time Entire Cities moved out of the Greater Toronto Area and started laying their sound on the rest of the country.
You can listen here: