Articles tagged with DRMHLLR

DRMHLLR is PRTTY KWL

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When I first listened to DRMHLLR‘s Demo, I was preoccupied with one question: where’s the vocalist? The Vancouver four-piece doesn’t have a singer, and this is disorienting since it doesn’t conform to my preconceptions of instrumental music; the group doesn’t play electronica or experimental post rock, nor does it indulge in loose, improvised jamming or noodling solos. Rather, it sounds similar to a lot of contemporary indie rock bands—Plants and Animals, Broken Social Scene—minus the vocalist.

In lieu of vocal melodies, the DRMHLLR’s two guitarists keep their playing melody-driven, opting for lyrical, minimalist leads instead of powerchord bombast. “Baby Tooth Tiger” begins as a sparse guitar riff, before the rhythm section propels it to a seemingly endless, cinematic crescendo (movie producers, take note: you’ve found your theme song). As well as delivering triumphant rock outs, DRMHLLR also has a knack for hypnotic, repetitive grooves. “c41″ is a six-minute, two-chord dirge, beginning with a haunting bass keyboard riff before giving over to chiming surf guitar licks. On “Ice Age,” the rhythm section sits out for over two minutes while the guitarists harmonize over gently purring feedback.

Despite delivering the occasional glorious crescendo, Demo is a sombre listen, more suited to a mellow evening at home than a wild Saturday night. It’s never challenging but always interesting, delivering soothing atmosphere without demanding your full attention.

Demo is only five songs long, and is billed as a demo (duh) EP. But at 35 minutes, it’s actually longer than some full-length releases. It’s self-released, and is currently only available for purchase at shows.
 
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Plants and Animals @ the Biltmore Cabaret, 3/18/09

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Plants and Animals have a lush, anthemic sound, thanks in part to the many guests the band enlisted to flesh out its latest album, 2008′s Polaris-nominated Parc Avenue. Going in to Wednesday night’s show at the Biltmore, I had expected the trio to be accompanied by backing musicians to help replicate its studio sound. Only the three original members were present, however, meaning the group’s sound was stripped down to its basic parts.

The band turned up the gain to compensate for the sparse set-up, and the result was a chaotic set that transformed the lush arrangements of Parc Avenue into muscular blasts of noise. Unlike its choppy, vaguely funky recorded form, “Good Friend” was lumbering and punkish, with the low end turned up high to accommodate for the lack of a bassist. “Feedback in the Field” ended with a gleefully noisy solo by guitarist Warren Spicer, with swells of guitar feedback and muted strumming over drummer Matthew Woodley’s steady backbeat. Nicolas Basque switched between guitar, bass, and keyboards, also providing some awkward banter about “sensual dinosaurs.”

Amazingly, the minimalist arrangements were no less powerful than their grandiose studio incarnations.”Bye Bye Bye” was soaring and majestic, with hollered vocals and cascading drum fills. “Fairie Dance” was drawn out to epic proportions, prompting an audience sing-along in its sped-up final movement. Best of all was “Mercy,” which evoked the jammy dance-party atmosphere of a Phish concert without any of the unfortunate hippie-stoner connotations.

Local four-piece DRMHLLR opened up the show with a solid set of instrumentals, resembling Broken Social Scene at its most easy-going (think “Pacific Theme”). Unfortunately, the band isn’t likely to get far without a vocalist, but that’s beside the point, since the catchy guitar riffs and danceable jazz-funk grooves provided enough to capture the audience’s interest.
 
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