Winnipeg pop-wizards Royal Canoe will play Victoria’s Lucky Bar this Feb. 28 in support of its brand new EP Extended Play.
“If you want to come to a show and not think too much and just dance, that works,” says guitarist and vocalist Bucky Driedger over the phone from Winnipeg. “But also, I think there is a lot of interesting musical things going on if you’re someone who wants to listen a little more intently.”
This binary pretty well sums up the sound on Royal Canoe’s new EP. A four-song romp through looping samples, strange time signatures and infectious pop hooks, Extended Play jumps and twirls on a fine line between experimental and catchy.
In the genre-bending spirit of the era, the band ignores any notion of boundaries as it blends influences ranging from hip-hop to dream-pop. The songs on the EP, which the band chose from fourteen tracks recorded for an upcoming album, were labours of love that bordered on obsession.
“‘Hold The Metal’ has been around for two and a half years and has gone through many incarnations,” Driedger says of the EP’s leadoff tune. “Some of these songs, we’ve logged like a hundred plus hours on…. In some ways, it’s scary to let that process be done and say ‘here is this thing that we are going to put out into the world,’ but, at the same time, at some point we have to be done…. I think if we had our way, we would just work on these songs forever.”
The result of these long hours spent in the band’s notoriously “shitty rehearsal space” is a textually rich sonic experience.
Driedger laughs at the idea of trying to name all the instruments used on the album. He does, however, recall some of the more unusual tricks, such as using a bath to create drum samples and running a banjo through distortion pedals.
On the dynamic quasi-disco track “Bathtubs,” a funky bass line and variety of click-clacking beats introduce the song before sparse guitar picking and R&B-like vocals creep in. All of these elements seem to work on their own distinct time signatures, but instead of impeding one another, they work together like rhythmic cogs, creating audible movement. From there, the song flourishes into a mix of harmonies, vocal effects, chiming bells and a chant-along chorus about (you guessed it) bathtubs.
“There is a lot of different things going on in the songs on this EP,” Driedger says, “but we tried to give it a sense of space so that there was some consistency to the vibe. That said, all the records that we all really love … they have a lot going on and I think that is what’s exciting to us.”
At the very least, Extended Play is a sultry sample of Royal Canoe’s pleasantly bombastic sound. Grandiose pop without pretension, this EP explores intricate new soundscapes with an inventive artillery. It is also fun to dance to. M
By Dylan Toigo