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.
Tucked somewhere in the shadows of the Our Mother Moist Canrock radio party of the late ’90s was a wealth of exciting guitar indie (some of which of course laid later-day claim to cred in bands like Broken Social Scene et al) that sounded a lot like Toronto’s Dearly Beloved; not surprisingly, the band’s figurehead, Rob Higgins, spent time in some of the best like Change of Heart and Tristan Psionic. They Will Take Up Serpents comes out next week on Anthem Records, and their third release in Canada (almost a teaser EP for their recently released American debut) is a great reason not to give up on plain ol’ guitar rock just yet.
Though the trajectory of modern-rock radio seems to have boomeranged back to Seattle in 1992, They Will Take Up Serpents mirrors everything great about long-running “alternative” rock staples such as the White Stripes (Jack White is summoned in particular in the menacing and enticing “Candy-Coated”)—confidence, hooks, and eccentricity without a hint of lame riff-rock pastiche. The post-punk dissonance of the first few barres of “The Ride” blend seamlessly into a power-pop girl/boy singalong as co-vocalist Niva Chow chimes in for the chorus and takes the bridge, while the slow-burn groove of “Make It Bleed” is a blend of some killer Siamese-Dream-smudge and Rentals-esque synth rock. EP standout “When Slow is the New Fast” (streaming above), with its polished Pixies angles, classic guitar-pop sheen and vocals, and punk-laced drive is a perfect summation of Dearly Beloved’s best and boldest qualities—a tight grasp on structure with the skills and balls to work their way just outside of its lines.