Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
A new release from mega indie(ish) entity Arts & Crafts can either elicit a dedicated excitement or a slightly more jaded (and healthy) skepticism. On one hand, there is an undisputed affinity for the little homegrown label that could—and did, and still is—and, on the other, there’s the poisonous burn-out factor, the feeling that our reigning DIY community kings have grown too comfortable, too inclusive, too safe.
Pastel, the debut EP from Still Life Still, satisfies both, its initial quirky post-punk allure giving way to an almost directionless drone of false starts and easy self-satisfaction. The focus seems to be on achieving an easily identifiable sound over developing the potentially great angular dynamics of their guitar-plied songs, so while the title track skilfully rides the loud/soft momentum throughout, both “Aid” and “80s on TV” trip over their own feet and eventually dissolve into messy, monotonous noodling (both musical and lyrical) and bland vocals. It’s interesting, but almost too strangely and instantly cyclical, to watch the expansion of the (still fairly new) insta-cred house that Kevin Drew and co. built grow to include a group of five kids from East York whose primary influence was the very label they now call home. Still Life Still show promise of inspiration and creativity, but the presumptuous confidence in the existing unpolished model is unnerving.
It’s nothing if not business smart, though, to throw out a quick three-song sampler just as word starts to spread and curious anticipation grows for not only the upcoming full-length but the band’s slot on one of the biggest showcases at NXNE this week. Still Life Still have been playing together for ten years already, and the strength of their live show is what sealed their built-in-buzz fate, so the great hope remains that these guys have more in them than a slightly crunchier Broken Social Scene.