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Music Review: twelve34 – The Only Cure

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It seems like all the great bands are coming out of Canada nowadays.  From The New Pornographers to Broken Social Scene, to Kate Rogers, there’s a prodigious amount of talent in the Great White North that has been trickling stateside for the past few years.

But while most of the new music has been indie rock-oriented, little love has been thrown to the classic arena rock sounds of bands like Loverboy, Toronto, or April Wine.  Well, a band out of Ottawa has been churning out some catchy, crunchy, melodic rock for the past few years and has just released a new album.  Though a Loverboy comparison is a bit of a stretch, twelve34 have their feet firmly planted in straight-ahead, arena-tinged rock.

Twelve 34 have established themselves as a live act not-to-miss across the frozen tundra of… well, the urban club scene of Canada’s biggest cities.  They were formed in 2003 by lead singer Jasen Colson, Dave Doran, Chris Amos, and brothers Eric and Jay St-Cyr.  The Only Cure is the band’s first full-length effort. 

Cure is a tightly-packed collection of rock with a serious melodic flair.  The song “Too Damn Late” surges through a midtempo backbeat and catchy chorus, emerging as one of the most accessible songs on the CD.  The song also serves as a good barometer of the production.  The guitars are sharp, with a nice vocal mix.  The drums come alive, keeping a garage/demo feel without sounding like mud.  “Firecracker” has a little goofy chorus but a strong verse line.  “The Only Cure” is the strongest track on the collection, sharp edges with a memorable chorus that sticks to your brain like maple syrup to moose-hunting boots.  The ballad “Melanie” features guest vocals from Mandee Woods.  The female component elevates the song above the median.

But it’s not all accolades for the band.  The lyrics are somewhat pedestrian (When the bass starts pumpin’/the drums start thumpin’), taking away some of the punch.  As mentioned before the production is surprisingly good, but the vocals seem flat at times.

All-in-all, this is a solid effort.  While the band has a ways to go before it can claim a spot at the forefront of a new classic rock revival from Canada, they’re a lot better than Helix on their best day.

The CD is available online at their label's website.  

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