It's great to once again hear the Mod sound, originally developed in England
and first popularized by The Who in the mid 60s. This time, however, the music is emulated not by a group of angst-ridden Brits but by a quartet of
talented young Canadians.
The High Dials have already become the Next Big Thing on campus radio, and with their newest CD War of the Wakening Phantoms they show no signs of
slowing down. Phantoms is a great mix of guitar driven alt-pop with some
musical surprises thrown in, such as flute, mandolin, and sitar. It's great how well these instruments blend in with the overall sound, without coming
off like "Hey, look, we can play sitar!" to an overblown extreme.
What else can you expect? You get deep yet accessible lyrics that don't stretch to create hypnotic melodies, and at times even border on the wistfully poetic. Listen to "The Drum" and you're transported back to a 60s-era Leonard Cohen in lyric, melody, and voice (yes, that's a compliment.A really big one.)
The production is brilliant, such as on the closing jam of the epic "Your Eyes are a Door", where the guitars, bass and drums build beautifully with the underlying harmonica and keyboards before turning tail into a symphony of crickets (smile now.when you hear it you will be blown away). Even the numerous guest musicians sound like long-time members of the band, tastefully bringing individual flavours without compromising the overall concept.
Listen to the waves of emotion that lap across the CD and an underlying theme emerges, almost like a gothic story that beckons to be heard. I've almost got it, but it may take another listen or two. No worries. I look forward to being taken away again.
Writer: DJ Richie Dynamite