There’s something about the lead-up to winter (occasionally known as fall) that always has me hitting folk music hard. But now that we’re a couple of weeks into the real thing and snow piles are actually piles, I kind of want a break from the doom and gloom—and the ice and darkness. Although, to have that break brought to me by a band named Morewine is perhaps more delight than I was expecting for mid-January.
The Edmonton quartet—once a solo outlet for lead Matthew McNichol—isn’t big on pomp. A perfunctory bio sets the stage while the final tagline, “Swaggalicious & Nutrischious rok 4 lyfe,” is left to convey whatever rambunctious feelings you want to draw from it.
But as a sales pitch it’s dead on. Old Dust, their third release, is laid-back, stripped down alt-pop. There are no flashing lights here, just a liner note for guitar and, later, Harder Guitar (as brought by Erik Hamilton). It’s a punk aesthetic with the mischievous glint of the early oughts rockers, bobbing along in it’s own way and pretty open to the idea of you doing the same.
“Muscle Mania” gets right to it as it juxtaposes it’s bouncing notes against a reverberating bass for a giddy, oddly comedic mix that entices you to start moving without really demanding much. In contrast, “All the time” feels slow and classic as McNichol finally makes an appearance on vocals, even as he declares, in Morewine’s super-chill way, that he “wants to do it all the time with you with you.”
“Never Thought” is a swaying, nihilistic crisis cut down at the knees with dreamy acceptance—a reassuring pat on the back as you stare into the void that somehow manages to get away with it as McNichol’s soothing voice wins out over the looming aural crisis building up.
The aforementioned harder guitar steps in for “Can’t Sleep,” mimicking the frenetic energy that leaves you flinging yourself from one end of the bed to the other until the arrival of dawn lets you know just how much trouble you’re in for. But “Fake Meat” drops all this to be one more short dance number before the EP is up—a near shame as by now you’re pretty ready to stay up all night, consequences be damned.
But given that it’s still actually freezing out, Morewine just might be in the right to call Old Dust when they do. Understated, and with just enough flash to let you wonder if they’re really just messing around, it’s the ideal shrug for the winter funk.
Top Tracks: “Never Thought”; “Fake Meat”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)