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.
We’re the first to admit when we’re slow to catch onto something, and especially if it’s something this good. Now that we’ve taken a second to swallow our new-release flavoured pride, we’ll get back to listening to Zeus‘s already-month-old EP, Sounds Like Zeus, the next sure-to-be success story for Arts&Crafts. Lucky for us, they’re not going anywhere.
Zeus have technically been right under our nose all along—at least, sort of; the musical brotherhood of popsmiths Mike O’Brien and Carlin Nicholson formed in 1996 and since then they have played both solo and together in many incarnations, most notably as labelmate Jason Collett‘s backing band. Their first effort as Zeus (rounded out by Rob Drake and Neil Quin) is a warm, nostalgic, catchy-as-hell romp through the best and most timeless bits of ’70s AM radio and non-cringe-worthy classic rock that Sloan fans will probably salivate over. Included in the vintage collection is a remake of the Genesis hit “That’s All,” a fun cover that stays true to the band’s fuzzy textures and genuine, infectious energy. When they’re exploring the softer and more intricate sides of classic pop, like on “How Does It Feel,” they evoke the musical sophistication that Wilco has achieved on their last few albums, and the irresistible vocal acrobatics of “Marching Through Your Head” play so nicely with the soul-pop piano and instantly familiar guitars that you wonder, with a fond recollection instead of suspicion or boredom, if you haven’t heard this one a million times before.
Even though the hooks are instant, it takes a couple of listens for the full package to catch on; once it does, there’s no resisting. Sounds Like Zeus is one of the best releases to come out of the city this year so far. Its time-honoured blend of pop and rock is refreshingly simple, and is effective because of it. It’s weightless in its confidence and so well polished that it sparkles. Zeus has two dates left in their month-long, potentially plaid-less Dakota Tavern Wednesday night residency; catch them this week with Joel Plaskett bandmate and soulful solo artist Peter Elkas, and next week with the Golden Dogs.