One of my favorite qualities to find in a band is that of fearlessness. Now, before you judge me for sounding like a cheesy rom-com character who’s trying to be profound, allow me to explain. Fearlessness in music is what results in the cool use of weird time signatures. It’s the driving force behind vocalists who emote so much that you physically feel their presence simply by listening to one of their tunes. Fearlessness, accompanied by all of the examples that I just listed, is what I hear when I listen to Paterson Hall.
The Ottawa sextet recently released their second EP, The Eaves, consisting of three tracks, each of which exemplifies a different set of strengths and uniquenesses that this band possesses. A massive departure from their previous effort, simply titled O, these self-proclaimed “noisebabies” have graduated from already musically complex indie rockers to a fresh, more risqué sonic space that surpasses many of their contemporaries residing under the indie-rock umbrella, amounting to a rather soundscapey lush-rock auditory feast.
Starting strong with the song “Home”, you are immediately swept into an immersive maze of instrumental layering, beginning with Alexandre Pilon’s echoed thumping on the skins. His energetic, structured bursts are contrasted by Kelsey Miki’s inexplicable vocals. Her timbre has a certain quality to it that I can’t quite put my finger on, but the closest words I could use to describe it would be velvety smooth.
The band’s mastery of layering peaks during “Breathe, Creak, Say Bye”; a gentle breeze of a track, loosely held together by undulating guitar to accompany a brooding Jesse Harding. Harding, whose roles range from vocals to strumming the six-string, dons a Ben Gibbard-esque voice that doesn’t strike or enter your ears, but rather seeps into them; the wash of Miki’s backing harmonies, bass, guitar and keys rendered haunting with each line that floats out of his mouth.
Enter “Foundlings”; the band’s stripping down to their proverbial skivvies, harkening back to the O days. Josh White’s aforementioned ghostly vocals climb to higher reaches, where Modest Mouse’s influence on the band becomes more evident. This more simplistic soundscape sheds light on Andi Finlay’s sprightly basslines. Even with the use of un-distorted guitar hooks, the spacey mood that the preceding two songs offer streamlines into this one, with lapses in the beat giving way to moments of airy ambience. This three song odyssey is then brought to a solemn end with a sample of Alfred Hitchcock’s voice to lead us on our way out.
An aptly haunting finale to an equally haunting album, Paterson Hall is a listening experience far too mature for a band that has only released two EPs. To discover them for yourself, click on their facebook page or download a copy of The Eaves from their band camp page.
Written by Karyna Evangelista