What does an indie rock band sound like? What kind of content is an alternative rock band exploring that the so-called non-alternatives are not exploring? These questions have been asked since the independent and alternative scenes first grabbed the public’s attention. I can’t offer any answers, but I do know that the question is still relevant today because of how the internet offers access and connectivity to a variety of cultural experiences like never before.
Friends of Foes are demonstrative of this changing landscape of indie and alternative music. The sonic palette of their new EP is much like their album cover – flecks of multiple colours spread across a canvas; complimentary and distinct while separate as well as the means to creating new shades by means of blending together. The result inherits all of the virtues and (yes, I know) faults of the influences that have come before it.
A track like “Midnight” really highlights how Friends of Foes combine disparate elements together. Celeste Nicholson’s voice and vocals are pure pop sheen and power while singing about midnight activities including late night dancing, in contrast to the melodic hardcore riffage and breakdowns contained in the instruments. The instrumentals seem to fly in the face of establishment pop music, until you remember that Alexisonfire has a certified gold record and won MuchMusic awards.
If that contrast wasn’t enough, just one track previous is a song titled “Dance in The Dark” wearing it’s influences on it’s sleeve. The drums invoke some Latin-American snare drum patterns for the sole purpose of getting you dancing and until the guitars thicken later in the song you could confuse it for a Hey Ocean! deep cut. THEN you go back just one more track (“Nowhere”) and you are treated to a track floating through guitar and cymbal soundscapes that belong at Eaux Claires before exploding into a half time section intending to get your head banging.
The rest of the EP is similarily eclectic, covering wide swaths of musical territory , which brings back the question of defining what is “indie” about the indie rock of Friends of Foes. While sometimes indie refers to music that aspires to be different from what is mainstream, the only thing that really marks Friends of Foes as “indie” is they are independent artists. I think Faults’s sound is aspiring to capture the musical landscape of popular music across many genres, and it does a damn fine job of that. If you want pure pop, hardcore, dance music, or any of the other genres they draw from you will be disappointed by this EP. Maybe though, the group’s stone soup approach to carving out their sound might be music to your ears despite it’s…well it’s faults.
- Jon Neher
You can experience Friends of Foes new release in the following rooms! Check em out.