Back in 2005 I was asked to be a panelist/mentor for SXSW. Basically, people would sign up to talk with me about the biz, advice and the ins and outs of how things went down in the field that I work in everyday. One of the kids that signed up to talk with me was a Canadian bass player named Andre from the group "temporarily called Soft Parade." He gave me his burned CD, and that's as far as it went. About a year later I heard from Andre again, only this time it was about the band's name change and telling me that I would be getting something in the mail. Something from a band called Lesley Lane.
While that may be how I became familiar with them, it may not be the gateway that most people out there will use to find out about them. The unsigned/unmanaged band was actually started by Patrick Krief, the guitarist for The Dears, in 2005. While he was on the road with The Dears Patrick feverously wrote music and realized that he needed to create an outlet for the newly drafted material. First call was to his cousin, the aforementioned Andre Benhahan, then drummer Bill Anthopoulos (who was recording with Sam Roberts at the time) and pianist/Italian immigrant Roberto Piccioni. The last piece of the puzzle came with the addition of engineer/producer Paul Edwards taking on the task of vocals. OK so enough of the history, what do they sound like? Well if you take The Dears (for obvious reasons), add in some Pink Floyd, Muse and mix in a little Jeff Buckley and Americana, you have a good start.
The self-titled album opens up with the drifting "Change of Plans," full on with strings and soaring vocals that creeps its way seamlessly into the next song, "Bourre." This track has a steady drumbeat, and although it deals with a melancholy subject (losing someone close to you), it remains upbeat and ironically, uplifting. Overall the album has an folk vibe to it, and sounds more American than Canadian, especially with tunes like "Junk," "Messed Up," "Never Say Goodbye," and "Bitter Fool." Then there is "One Nation," a song that is like nothing else on the album. Singer Paul Edwards flexes his vocal range to the max here, at times pining away and crooning like Jeff Buckley while the music strays from the folk sound and climaxes into a pissed off, fuzzy masterpiece in the vein of old Muse. The track then quickly then calms down into a slow piano ballad again reminding you of the roots with which the band is influenced. "Marching Backwards" plays off the prog rock tip with a heavy bass line and a squealing guitar solo that carries the tune in the last several minutes. "Without Your Love," carefully paints images of floating in a dream and shows off George Harrison inspired guitar riffs at the end. If you need a reason to check out this album, then it's for this track alone if nothing else.
The last few years have seen a surge of great Canadian bands rising to the top of the indie circuit, and truth be told, Lesley Lane is just as worthy as any of them out there that are already household names. Check out the links and track below and lets hope these guys come down this way to play sometime soon.
"One Nation" MP3
Lesley Lane Myspace