Regina-based music collective Library Voices are bringing their bombastic, fuzzed-out brand of hook-laden indie/pop-rock back to Winnipeg’s West End Cultural Centre (WECC) on Feb. 25, kicking off the band’s tour of eastern Canada in support of their third full-length album, Lovish.
According to vocalist/guitarist Carl Johnson, Library Voices are no strangers to Winnipeg, as the city is a frequent starting or ending point of most of their Canadian tours.
“Whenever we go east, we usually start or end with Winnipeg. It just kind of makes sense, y’know? It’s five hours away,” said Johnson.
“Stop in Brandon, get Subway on the way – it’s kind of tradition at this point.”
Citing Library Voices’ last stop in Winnipeg, Johnson praised the relatively new Good Will Social Club as a “fantastic” live venue.
“We have kind of a similar style venue here in Regina called The Artful Dodger, but I think the Good Will Social Club may be a little more fleshed out on the rock and the pizza front.”
On Lovish, Library Voices have a lot in common with fellow Canadian indie-rockers The New Pornographers. Like the Pornographers, Library Voices favour driving guitar rhythms, impeccable vocal harmonies, and a vast, dense sound made possible by their lineup of seven.
That’s not to say Lovish is an homage of sorts, far from it. In fact, what makes Library Voices stand out amongst the slew of indie-rock bands across Canada is the fact that each song on Lovish is probably going to remind you of a different band or genre – but it’ll all sound uniquely Library Voices.
Album opener “Oh Donna” sounds like lazy, mid-90’s alternative rock (or early indie-rock, depending who you ask) at its finest with its muscular, overdriven chords, walking-pace tempo, and pseudo-ethereal vocals.
For something completely different, the song “Zzyzx” takes a sharp left turn into classic rock and sticks the landing, from a pompous horn section Bob Seger would be pumped about, right down to an unintentional, yet awesomely spot-on vocal tribute to Tom Petty.
“There are some by-products of the approach that we’ve taken that you can’t really anticipate,” said Johnson of the song, after chuckling heartily at the Manitoban’s assessment, and noting that there was an intent to emphasize saxophone parts more on Lovish than they had been in the past.
Due to the prevalence of sax in the music of Bruce Springsteen and the aforementioned Seger, it’s easy to see how Library Voices’ emphasis on the instrument begat such strong classic rock vibes in “Zzyzx,” even if the band weren’t aware of it at the time.
Lovish and the band’s preceding 2014 EP For John mark a significant stylistic shift for Library Voices. Up until these releases, the band played a far cleaner, more pop-oriented and radio-ready iteration of their current sound. This style culminated on the band’s 2011 offering Summer of Lust, which Johnson described as the band’s attempt at a “complete pop record.”
According to Johnson, the band’s experimentation on Lovish can be attributed in part to the ubiquitous adult responsibilities of marriage and children, which in turn affected the manner in which the record was made.
“A lot of time had gone by. Three years had gone by before we made For John, and another year before Lovish, so I think we’re all getting a little older,” said Johnson.
“A large majority of the band is married, having kids. Three band members have kids, and two more have buns in the oven.”
In getting older and having relatively changed priorities, Johnson remarked that the band was simply unwilling to “chase radio.”
“By the time For John came out, we were kind of consciously wanting to experiment more and make music, first of all, for ourselves. Music that we thought was going to be interesting and more exploratory,” said Johnson.
“Hopefully people dig it as well. It’s a hard thing to do when you’re not sure what the rules are, and you’re not sure what people who followed you before are going to think. It is a little scary, but I think just being older, we’re like ‘oh, we just wanna shift gears a little.’”
Fans of Library Voices already anxious for more will be happy to know that Johnson is continually looking forward, and eager to toss out ideas for future releases from the band.
“We actually recorded a bunch of covers,” said Johnson.
“So we might release a covers EP, we’re gonna [record] a couple more really soon […] we’ve talked about doing seven-inches, we’ve talked about doing albums. I have no idea where we’re going from here, but that’s kind of exciting itself.”
Library Voices will be joined by local folk singer-songwriter Slow Leaves. Tickets are $12 in advance and are available at Music Trader, the WECC, and online at www.ticketfly.com