We recently attended the “Grilled Cheese Challenge” in western Toronto and randomly encountered some great live music from The Savilles, a four-piece local indie-rock band that quickly caught my attention. Virtually impossible to not notice the band in their very loud and colorful suits, the musical talents of Sylvain Marquis (guitars/purple suit), Gabriele Mabrucco (bass/blue suit) and Nate Finucci (percussion/pink suit) were perfectly complemented by the equally impressive vocal prowess of singer Meagan Brittanie. Picking up a copy of their most recent “Something Strange” album following their show on this perfect Saturday afternoon proved to be a very worthwhile decision.
Giving this one a whirl during the morning commute, the up-tempo indie-rock riffs and guitar hooks oozed a definite retro synth-rock vibe (albeit with less emphasis on the synth), drawing instant comparisons to the likes of Dear Rouge and Weaves. And while their contemporaries have some pretty amazing lead vocalists too, Meagan Brittanie dazzles with a little edgier punk-rock hidden in the depths of her vocal range. Not sure that you believe me? Go ahead and spin the closing track “I Want More,” and see if, like me, you detect some true eighties punk-pop akin to Blondie here. I immediately drew comparisons to the Blondie hit “One Way Or Another” when I heard the intro, and continue to do so upon each and every play.
For those seeking pure indie-rock tunes, there are plenty of choices hear to satisfy such cravings, as found in “Lose That Girl,” “Go” and the title track “Something Strange” (complete with some old-school backing vocals from the guys). And just like many successful indie-rock bands from previous generations that broke barriers and ventured into the mainstream, The Savilles could have equal success with radio-friendly offerings such as “So Far Gone” and “Serenade.” As a fan of the indie-rock scene (mostly early to mid nineties), I consider this album to be a great throwback to those original pioneers of the genre. With eight original tracks, the appeal for me above all here is the ample variety of musical styles on offer here. The indie-punk influences, the retro-synth sounds, and the radio-friendly possibilities are all present; but keep digging and there is plenty more to tantalize your listening pleasures.
For instance, skip to “If You Want My Love” and take delight in a slower (eighties pop, even) number that rewards the listener with a great opportunity to soak up those amazing vocals from Meagan. The deliberate pace and additional keyboards from guest Renan Yildizdogan round this track out with perfect precision to make this a go-to number on the album. Saving what I consider to be the best until last, “Sunday Morning” truly stands out from the crowd here. For me, the melodic (and positive) introduction and opening verse whisks me away to thoughts of those popular romantic comedies, especially those pivotal moments where good fortunes in the pursuit of love and happiness are finally bestowed upon the hapless central character. If “Sunday Morning” magically appears in the next Richard Curtis directed rom-com, remember that you heard that connection here first.
“Something Strange” is an impressive collection of music that has proven very difficult to eject from my CD player. Equally impressive is the newfound knowledge that traditional indie-rock continues to thrive and be embraced by the next generation of indie fan. We are grateful to the folks at the Grilled Cheese Challenge for not only introducing us to The Savilles, but to a band with a very bright future ahead if they successfully pursue and create original music of this very high caliber. Highly recommended.