The Stills - Oceans Will Rise


Lug 14 2009, 9:16

You know how it feels when your favorite bands release new stuff. There is this huge excitement , happiness with expectations high. Some sneaky suspicion bugging you inside on the versus side. What if it doesn’t catch up with the previous perfectnesses? And it was what I had in mind once I got to hear about the album #3 from The Stills (Tim Fletcher, Dave Hamelin, Olivier Corbeil, Liam O’Neil, Julien Blais). With their second LP – Without Feathers coming out you know how the funs got split into two. Post-punker based hardcore fans acquired from the debut Logic Will Break Your Heartwere not happy with the new Americana-ish influenced sound where the rest was welcoming new experiments and Dave Hamelin’s moving forth up to guitar and more vocals from behind the drums. What it would gonna sound like this time, I was nervously thinking. Good thing happens when disappointment is far far away from what you get in the end and what even better is that the excitement you have keeps itself alive even though the release is not even “new” anymore.

After two long-lengths released through Vice Records, the Canadian quintet have moved to Arts & Crafts for the third album. And the producer stays the same who is non other than Gus Van Go. There comes a work of collaboration!
A darkly designed artwork with a skull on the cover of Oceans Will Rise(/album) had already implied some sinister would be going on through the record before you know. This omnious feeling even made its place rather permanent with the creepy videos coming out afterwards. See: Being Here, Don’t Talk Down, I’m With You...

The Stills know how to make a dynamic start to an album. If Lola Stars and Stripes and In The Beginning still haven’t made you figure this fact, Don’t Talk Down will definitely do the magic. Upbeat, energetic with sorta aggressive lyrics this opener is clearly taking us back to The Stills’ rather 80s sounding post-punk sound ornamented in The Specials influenced ska rhytms. The pleasure this tune is submitting is getting even deeper as yet another Canadian greatness Brendan Canning showing up in the creepy video (Christopher Mills). Head is moving side to side, temperatures rises and we hear the Devil outside.

Second track of the album Snow in California is one of my favorites by far. Partly new wave, partly shoegaze; penned by Tim Fletcher; this tune is full of good surprises. Moving beats, noisy guitars and Tim’s crystalized vocals rising towards climax of joy where I enjoy how the motionless lyrics turn up to end in the possible depressive way. This rang me some kind of dejavu we happened to have again with the rise of The DaysleepersRelease The Kraken; some 80’s sound bringing The Cure and Cocteau Twins together. Double thumbs up and bows!

Don’t let the noise confuse you about how the rest of the record might be sounding though. The newgaze feeling is not to be felt oftenly again. Instead The Stills have worked on some varying sounds. Broadening the scoop, sailing towards some well pointed experimenting. The most obvious one being Snakecharming the Masses. An uneventful melody tiding through oriental rhytms again being dragged along Tim’s deep-in soul vocals. Clearly the Istanbul leg of their 2006 tour has inspired the band creating this tune. Tim’s lines going “Blind us with a calling to prayer, whirling dervish, dark black hair” seems to be an open proof for this proudful inspiration. I am so happy the time they spent around here have led them to write such a killer tune! Clearly one of the top tracks in the album!

Next up Being Here is also the first single came out of [album artist=The Stills]Oceans Will Rise
. I personally see no connection between the sound of Being Here and the The Stills so far. There is no Logic Will Break Your Heart type of post-punk nor Without Feathers type Americana. Being Here; could be classified in a specific group along with I'm With Youand Hands On Fire. All making a different new scene of The Stills with the heavily processed classic rock rhytms. Catchy and familiar just like The Smashing Pumpkins , U2, Rem kind of rock’n roll or a bit of Dinosaur Jr. maybe. Good songwriting, impressive singing. From this point of view it is not hard to understand why Being Here and I'm With You are selected to be singles. They sound to be kind of tunes that radios, charts and forums would like. I have to tell though that they don’t grab me as tight as the rest of the album. On the other hand both videos for Being Here (Teqtonik) and I'm With You (The Sanchez Brothers) are worth seeing. Creepiness is full back on track in shape of fire, mist, heads-off musicians... Good works.

The most crestfallen moment of this very upbeat record is being Everything I Build; served with perfect song writing in the incisive hands of Dave Hamelin. I guess it takes a huge heart to write some line like “I built it with all of the things that I'm not”... Another meltdown moment: Dinosaurs is considered as a filler tune by some. I will beg to differ to say it is rather like a peaceful – heart breaking breathe in between the moving chords shaping up Oceans Will Rise all along.

With the anxious and fearful lyrics comes Panic. Highly moving built on classy drum beats. The fierce drum solo just before the second verse is reminding us old school metal beats. Can’t help but give some thumb up to Julien Blais here. Transition between this loud part and the rest of the tune is something to praise for. Sensation shall last untill the end all through this piece.

Eastern Europe is another Fletcher penned tune with upgoing melody. Fitting vocals on immediate rises and ups have made this yet another favorite from the album. Surely the energy coming out of this song promises this to be an absolute crowd fueler for live gigs.

Inspired by an African drink and days spent in Turkey again; Rooibos/Palm Wine Drinkard is a top tune makes you want to move wherever you are. Sitting in the boat, metro, walking down the busiest street of the town; doesn’t make a difference. You at least find a finger on your hand air dancing to the noise coming out from your speakerphones. The rock’n roll at its best is finding an end in an aloud gazer way fading out to a familiar melody inherited from Without Feathers. See: In The End. Final notes sound to be a reference to that lovely tune. I say cool! Yes, this definitely should be seen live, something tells…Another point deserving a praise about this brilliant tune is that it is positioned perfectly in the track listing. Following a kinda classic melody I’m With You and smoothly leading to the mellow closer of the 12 track long trip; [track artist]Statue of Sirens[/track]. In which you simply fall in love Tim's vocals. More than ever.

Releasing three LPs, Oceans Will Rise eventually earned a Juno award to these Canuck five piece. Clearly this award, new label and touring with good friends Kings of Leon have brought them more publicity and recognition. Having experienced seeing them live once, I can tell how this band becomes an addiction once they get you in their web. Completely satisfied, delighted and rejoiced with the album number four and still can’t get this album out of my player; hoping to see these wonderful guys live again. Not only superb talented and fun they were on the stage but also one of the nicest – kindest musicians I have seen up to date. Based on the recently published blog post by The Stills, they have already started working for the next album and here is me hoping maybe Istanbul has more in the cache to inspire them for new songs. So why not making a late-tour over here again. Just saying. Tee hee



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