Just starting out, Toronto’s Northern Heirs have released a teaser EP in the lead up to their first album release later in 2017. Demo 2017 may be somewhat of a utilitarian title (though a helpfully direct one), but it does the trick.
Duo Scott Carruthers and Michael Norberg state the album is “a labour of love born of a desire to make honest, thoughtful music.” In the first three songs of their upcoming release, there’s an obvious City and Colour influence that feeds into this aim—quiet guitar notes chiming out slow melodies, and vocals to match.
There’s more punch in the three tracks to come, but Demo 2017 does include a light kicker in “Fall in Fives.” Rolling drums are a welcome addition, and weightier vocals show off some range—although as yet unreleased tracks offer a better taste of what the band is capable of once they shake off some well-trod indie notes.
Closer “Stone Song” settles into its own mellow rhythm, rocking back and forth—and reaching high—as Carruthers and Norberg reach deep. It’s a good spot for a standalone closer, and an interesting point for a turn leading into the rest of their songs to date as it slowly moves out of the sound that defined the first half of their collection.
And while it seems a shame to talk about songs that aren’t out yet, Demo 2017 really is only but a taste of what’s to come and makes for a good introduction to a band that’s already got a few neat numbers tucked away for when they’re ready. Northern Heirs might feel more comfortable with a classic indie sound right now, but they’re at their best when they have a bit of fun and reach into some alt pop corners—something fans will just have to look forward to.
Top track: “Fall in Fives”; (“Small Towns”)
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)