Friday, March 13, 2009

Band Review: The Most Serene Republic

You last heard me talking about a recent favorite band of mine known as Menomena. Today I discuss one of my favorite bands of all-time, the Ontario-based indie rock band known as The Most Serene Republic (TMSR).

TMSR is not your average, everyday indie group. (Although, there's really nowhere near an "average" indie group.) Their instrumentation is particularly unique, featuring violin, EBow, trombone (and other brass), and xylophones in addition to the classic piano/guitar/bass/drum orchestration. They are a quirky, hyper-educated bunch, with song titles such as 'Solipsism Millionaires' and 'The Protagonist Suddenly Realizes What He Must Do in the Middle of Downtown Traffic' towering over their repetoire, sporting lyrics like "This deducer of lives is not a being, but profused meaning" and "Purpose: What a selfish orangutang; progress has now been changed, nature is lost."

What gets me most of all about TMSR, though, is the depth of their sound. With layer upon layer of floating synths, twinkling xylophones, guitars, pianos, and drums, all topped with the vocal tradeoff and duets of lead singers Adrian Jewett and Emma Ditchburn, The Most Serene Republic create full, complete sound that I've rarely, if ever, heard from any other band. As their website puts it: "At the rate they’re going, whether they mean to or not, the Most Serene Republic will alter the way in which people appreciate rock music"

Here are a couple of tracks that I've particularly fallen in love with:

Fading in from some random distortion, the listener is led in with a calm acoustic guitar, soon overshadowed by an elegant piano riff and a vocal duet, pondering (in complex language), the actions of the "men who live upstairs" and the influence food has on our behavior. It soon explodes into a satisfying chorus of crashing drums, guitar, piano, and a singing violin. A real gem from their album Population.
(Also, video can be found here.)

Begining with an acoustic prelude to the main theme, this track is fuelled by a driving, up-and-down guitar riff, some crashing drums, and a full brass horn section to back. Its intensity is constantly changes, easing off to allow for some odd lyrical prominence, talking of the futility of emotions and the "solving" of human beings by computers. It continually builds, pulling out all of the musical talents of the band: sparkling piano melodies, rocking guitars, vocal dualism, and energy in a song the likes of which I haven't often heard. It all culminates in a climaxing conclusion that will leave you a bit confused, yet quite satisfied. Bats cleanup on Population.

A somewhat experimental track from their EP Phages, this song starts with a complex drumbeat and violins with sudden, abrupt eigth notes, Anhoi Polloi suddenly explodes into an energetic guitar riff, easing off for the crooning of the two main singers: "I see real as an aging face, with lines of time put right in place." In many ways, this track reminds me of Present of Future End: A big guitar riff trading with vocals, and ending with some big brass covering the main theme. Still a really nice piece. (This one's in .m4a, off of iTunes.)

The second track off of their debut album Underwater Cinematographer, I fell in love with this track due to its complex structure that seems to be ever-evolving. Jumping right off with the high tenor of Adrian Jewett singing "my world is firmly compressed into the pocket of your front breast" over a buzzing synthesizer, after about a minute, the track devolves into a repetitive vocal cadence over handclaps with some added synth. Suddenly, the track changes direction, completely cutting for a moment before introducing a fast, warm acoustic guitar, soon aided by a crazy xylophone and "la la"'s galore. It continues on that note for a while, eventually devolving into the same buzzing synthesizer and a piano drifting out to the sound of Jewett's pleasing vocals singing "you're what I want".

The Most Serene Republic have released two albums to date: Underwater Cinematographer and Population, in addition to an EP entitled Phages.

An album may be coming up in the future: Stay tuned!

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