February 3, 2012

New Music: James and Blackburn Explore the 'Island Universe'

In a world where underground bands are overly appreciated and music festivals have been appropriated as celebrity gatherings, it has become increasingly difficult to find a decent indie band that stands out from the crowd. Enter James and Blackburn, an alternative rock trio from Toronto, Ontario, who have accomplished just that with the release of their newest album, Island Universe.

Metaphor-ridden lyrics are executed through a balanced chemistry that is gradually revealed throughout the duration of the record. Every band member's individual talent is audible as each riff, beat and pitch contributes to a delightfully different sound that comes with every track.

"Dark Sparks" and "Good Company" fit into the category of classic indie rock with interesting instrumental solos. The verses and choruses are distinct enough to be engaging but not to the point of disruption. Ambient interlude tracks "Conductor" and "Merry-Go-Round" appropriately prepare the listener for a pleasant acoustic experience in the lo-fi, head-bobbing "Two Trees".

What will truly help James And Blackburn foster the distinct sound that this genre needs is the addictive nature of "Garden of Hours" consisting of tempos in constant flux against a background of arcade-reminiscent tones. This contrasts with closing track "Leaving", a fade out of one lyric swirling in repetition to the sleepy sounds of howling winds.

As an avid fan of indie music, it was refreshing to feast my ears on a record of so much internal eclecticism. The diversity between each track both held my attention and somehow made itself work.

Written by Christina Luo.

Photo | Ming Wu

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