H2N has recently been discovering just how vibrant the Canadian indie scene currently is and our latest plays have come courtesy of Josh Mover and the Shakers from Toronto. The band have just released their creative debut 5 track EP Into A Ghost.
Released just before Valentine’s Day, you are excused for assuming track I Steal Your Heart to be some kind of love slush fest, but no, it’s a lively tune about the physical value of a pumping heart to the burgeoning transplant black market (thanks for the tip boys I’ll start saving up now), and has one of those beautifully catchy bouncy choruses you just want to sing along to on the road. Josh was recovering from a bad relationship break up and decided to create a quirky tune which offered cathartic release. It’s a bouncy but grim humoured song along the lines of the much loved Robyn Hitchcock or Adam Green during their playful moments. Josh Mover confirms he was inspired by the style and humour of comic singer and mathematician Tom Lehrer; probably best known in the UK for the kids song The Elements which sets out the names of the chemical elements to Gilbert and Sullivan (I swear you will know the song if not the singer).
While “quirky” is a great way to get noticed, it doesn’t necessarily make for a long lasting and loving relationship and happily title track Into A Ghost is a more serious proposition. Vocally and musically it rather reminds me of one of those understated and dark Damon Albarn/Blur dreamy songs and it certainly offers another side to this complex band. The song lyrics to my mind are about losing touch and out of love with someone, where the communication grows both cold and stilted.
The band name Josh Mover and the Shakers evokes something of the heyday of the late 1950’s rock and rollers, and the track Box in the Sky with its slightly Telstar cult guitar, vocals and harmonised backing rather feels something like a re-imagined Buddy Holly song brought forward about 60 years. It all just adds to the complex layers of sounds and influences making up Josh Mover & The Shakers.
How Can I Compete With That? is a nicely simple indie tune which asks one of the perennial questions which explores our crisis of confidence when forced to compare our own frailties against one of those bright hunky young shiny people that seem to exist. This track reminds me something of the frank and clear poppy indie that existed in Jarvis Cocker’s Pulp. The emerging theme to the EP is that it’s a very accessible kind of deep and dark. The final track on the EP has the unlikely title of Park Benches, but of course a Park Bench is a common place to meet and explore an early love, and this is a song about such memories. Like the rest of the tracks on the EP, Park Benches is musically smooth, solid and accomplished.
Overall I admire Into A Ghost as a debut EP. This is a very polished debut and a very listenable set of music; for a series of quite dark subjects it is surprisingly accessible and positive. It is no surprise that given the maturity and variety in the set Josh Mover confirms he collected a group of experienced band mates to record the EP over 2 days in Toronto at the end of last summer; Ben Reinhartz (Dilly Dally); Mathew Wronski (The Sulks); Joseph Landau (ex-Formalists), Will Hunter (The Nutrients), and Clara Klein.
Once again, those spoil sports at H2N fail to buy me return business class flights to Canada to see the band, but if you happen to be in Toronto on 23 February 2018 then make sure you make it to the Monarch Tavern where these new songs will be given a public airing.
You can catch a listen to Josh Mover and the Shakers in all the usual streaming places including at Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/joshmoverandtheshakers