Taking inspiration from jam bands like The Grateful Dead, Po Lazarus recently recorded their debut self-titled EP live in one (almost) continuous take. This ambitious and experimental style is something the Montreal quartet clearly thrives on. At its core, Po Lazarus is a folk-rock band, but as their five-track EP demonstrates they’re also a band continuously striving to find new ways of making music.
As with all experimentation, the final results are mixed. As lead singer Joshua Carey croons about lost loves, one night stands, self-doubt and redemption, the music shifts between sweet folk, harder rock and straight up country.
As much as the band doesn’t want to admit it, they’re masters at putting on a great performance. When you see a live Po Lazarus show, it’s difficult not to get swept up in the vibe and feel like these gentlemen are making sweet love to your eardrums. Upon repeated listens at home, the band’s strengths and weaknesses start to become more apparent.
In the psychedelic-fuled lead track Backyard Voodoo Carey’s voice sounds like the love child of Jim Morrison and Thom Yorke. When first hearing the lyrics, it’s hard to take Backyard Voodoo seriously (Chicken bones are strewn/From the ceiling of your room/and brickdust is guarding the cupboard where you keep your/broom). But just like dark magic, upon repeated listens the song grows on you.
In more folk-ish Po Lazarus songs like The Seams, the guitar wailing away seems out of place. But in Backyard Voodoo the guitar is perfection. And when you combine that with Mo Novak’s solid drum beat, I could listen to Carey ramble on about nonsense forever.
I’m Coming For You is one of the most polished songs on the EP. The song’s impact slowly creeps up on you and has just the right doses of pop, rock and folk. The best guitar solo on the EP can be found here and features some impassioned vocals from Carey.
Conversely A Couple Weeks Time is the blandest of the offerings on the EP. While you have to appreciate the desire to try different things, country is clearly not a style that inspires the band as much as folk or rock.
If You Are Alone is the most obvious crowd pleaser of the EP. Ukulele, falsetto and simple lyrics is always a great mix. Especially when performed live, Po Lazarus knows how to make this combination work for them. With the incredibly infectious chorus (If you are alone/Well i’ll be the one to take you home x2) it’s hard not to find yourself singing along to this song whether you’re in a packed bar after a few pints, or stone-cold sober sitting alone in your living room.
All and all this EP signals Po Lazarus is a strong band that’s here to stay. It’ll be exciting to see where Po Lazarus’s goal of experimentation takes their musical style and lyrical inspiration next.
To celebrate the launch of their EP, Po Lazarus is having a party tonight, Friday, August 8th at Turbo Haus. Tickets are $10 in advance, $14 at the door. To download a copy of the EP for yourself, make sure you check out Po Lazarus’s bandcamp page