Montreal is home to any number of musical collectives, and Cheshire Carr is joining the ranks with their debut LP, Odds and Ends (named for a painting by Emily Carr). The album itself, a folk-rock road movie, was funded through Indiegogo as a follow-up to their 2014 EP.
The sextet draw on some classic folk rockers, including Montreal’s own Leonard Cohen, and even go so far to tap into folk’s protest roots with the a capella “Devil in a Porcelain Dress.” It’s one of the band’s slow numbers on an album that tilts from electric slides and deep-throated growls to the quiet strumming of closer “Cry My Love.”
The album, mixed by Warren Spicer (Plants and Animals), plays on its road motif as the chugging sound of a train on track sets the tone before the opening notes. Ariel Harrod takes the lead on most of the vocals, his smooth voice a surprising contrast to Geneviève Cooke’s powerful, country rock “’Till the End,” a four-minute challenge, and promise, to “keep on fighting ‘till the end.”
But as loud and aggressive as one song on Odds and Ends may be, there’s sure to be another one that’s just as tempered—Harrod a master at holding back until he’s joined by the collective’s other members on a bluesy chorus like “The Morning After.”
Its crashes and pain, and surprisingly pointed lyrics when the captivating “Devil in a Porcelain Dress” both calls out the one percent and the power of a protest song as the group’s voices rise up in quiet defiance.
Foot-stomping country rhythms stand comfortably next to indie numbers about heartbreak, and even old Biblical stories become a new groundswell of movement for “Point Blank” as the album lives up to its name in a surprisingly unified collection that pulls on a rich—but diverse—folk history.
Top Tracks: “Devil in a Porcelain Dress”; “Cry My Love”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)