Sound Advice: Gravestone Rock by the Skeletones Four
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Sound Advice: Gravestone Rock by the Skeletones Four

The Skeletones Four mesh understated psychedelia with classic pop flair and make jam fans of us all on their proper debut.

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.


The quick crush you’re going to develop on the Skeletones Four might surprise you. Hailing from Guelph but based in Toronto, the band’s proper debut album, Gravestone Rock, is a modestly produced concoction of prog, post, and psych-pop that weaves thoughtful arrangements through stomp-down performances whose deceivingly airtight and stupidly smart execution belies the overall quirky sound of the record. Still, it feels like a quiet coming-out, making the album a possible sleeper favourite of the year.

As the project of singer/guitarist/songwriter Andrew Collins, the Skeletones Four released AAAAAHHH!!! in 2009, a decade’s worth of songs that Collins played and recorded himself, so it makes sense that this so-called debut would be so well realized. Recorded (again by Collins, but this time with bandmates Evan Gordon, Jordan Howard, and John Merritt) on a farm in Caledon, it’s perhaps the starkness of the production responsible for the tension simmering under the surface of the otherwise laid-back songs such as album standout “Empty Eyes” or the classic sounding opener “Pick Up the Pieces,” a strong indication of the tremendous songwriting at play and a steep learning curve in terms of hearing the gold through what sounds like clean, if not limited, recording. There doesn’t seem to be any tricks here—just the sound of stellar musicians who are intuitive, playful, and, at the same time, incredibly focused.

The overall aesthetic of The Skeletones Four means words like “jam” come to mind as descriptors for the intricate instrumental passages in songs like “Rotten to the Core,” but if you can put that awful thing out of your head, those parts are closer to post-punk’s angular breakdowns. Gravestone Rock is spooky and soulful and challenging in the best ways; a bit untouched by current influences or fans, even, which makes it all the more special.


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.

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