Using their allusion: Library Voices returns with For John EP

Regina indie rock group to play Saskatoon’s MoSoFest, June 14

It seems inevitable that some fans will think that For John, the yet-to-be-released seven song EP from Regina’s Library Voices, is, well… different.

Kind of, yeah.

Here’s why you might think that: Stripped away are the sunny beach party doo-wop melodies, the quirky space noises and the rousing, sugar-hepped choruses that the sprawling prairies group established themselves with on their back-to-back ultra-pop-rocks albums Denim on Denim and Summer of Lust. At this point in the game, it seems like the group has embarked on a brave endeavour to cull these familiar elements and build up anew.

But be glad that they did.

If you care to momentarily step into the indie rock time machine, Library Voices were formed in 2008 from the ashes of proto-book-rock band National Frost. The Voices released their first EP Hunting Ghosts (& Other Collected Shorts) shortly thereafter, setting the prairies afire with literary references run amok.

Library Voices

The story unfolded with the group becoming CBC Radio 3 darlings with the pop singalong gems “Drinking Games” and “Party Like It’s 2012”, lost their equipment when their jam-space flooded and toured everywhere. They even managed to oust The Muppets on the Top Ten of iTunes Canada chart with Summer of Lust, an album that suited up with a well-dressed combination of pop, soul and kitsch.

So it’s going to be interesting how the fans react to the new material, which, in so many ways, is unlike the old hits.

That said, For John is Library Voices’ most earnest effort to date. The songs, now blanketed in warm layers of fuzz tones and shimmery, pellucid melodies, still simmer with pop elements but are comprised of a dissimilar recipe. Atmospheric synths abound, hazy vocals strain, and drones, err, drone? There are plenty of meander-y parts as well where the instruments repeat and build on themselves slowly, like a mantra. Even so, there are still moments when the band lets their collective hair down for a good stage romp. “Space Age” is rooted in crashy, hip-shaking surf guitar runs and a screaming saxophone, while “Use Your Allusion” rages with scruffy, unkempt Can-collective noise rock.

In short, if you didn’t care to read the following mini-essay and instead skipped to the end, Library Voices’ newest EP, For John, is good. The EP comes out June 10 via Prairie Shag Recordings – the band will likely have copies with them when they arrive in Saskatoon for MoSoFest.

Ominocity recently caught up with Library Voices’ Mike Dawson for a chat on not being able to keep a secret, on starting a new record label (sort of), and making music that sounds like real life rather than some complex computer algorithm.

Ominocity: The album is an interesting departure from your last full-length album – what was the impetus for this change in direction?

Mike Dawson: Carl is going to kill me for going in to it. I promised him this time around I’d leave a lot of this open to interpretation. I’m not the best at holding on to a mystery. I probably wouldn’t make the best accomplice if you were trying to dump a body.

It’s definitely an evolution from the last record, but I also think we’ve just come full circle from our first EP. There’s only so far you can go refining and streamlining one thing before you strip away everything that was interesting about it in the first place. The only thing that I knew for certain was that I didn’t want to make a record that sounded modern. Everything is just so hyper-produced and bloated lately. With that said, we didn’t set out to make it sound of a particular vintage either. We just wanted it to feel honest and real – like you are standing in the room with us. I wanted the effects and weirdness to sound like it was crafted by human hands. I just wanted music that sounded like real life rather than some complex computer algorithm.

OM: Was there any specific influences that the band harnessed while writing and recording this EP?

MD: We had a friend of the band pass away last March. Both Carl and I had the exact same response to the news – we instinctively wanted to dedicate an EP to him. For John is a collection of songs that are about, for, or inspired by our friend John Farrell.

OM: What can fans expect in the future from Prairie Shag Recordings?

MD: There is nothing set in stone at the moment. We’ve assembled a secret committee of elders and on the 9th day of each month they will meet behind closed doors to vote on our next release. We just want to put out a succession of unique and interesting records without a lot of pageantry or industry hubbub.

OM: With the upcoming tour, is the band planning on being more active following your months of silence? Could a full-length be in the works?

MD: At the moment it feels a bit like we co-exist in a series of parallel universes – every once in awhile there’s a ripple in time and we all end up in the same place and try our best to capitalize on the opportunity. We’re doing a smattering of dates throughout the summer. We were invited to play a show in Ontario with Gord Downie and The Sadies so we’ve plotted a couple other dates around that. I think I can also safely say that we will still have some releases left in us, although when and where is as much your guess as mine…


Catch Library Voices on tour:

June 11 – Calgary – Broken City –
June 12 – Regina – The Exchange *
June 13 – Winnipeg – WECC ~
June 14 – Saskatoon – MoSo Fest
June 16 – Red Deer – Bo’s Bar & Grill #
June 17 – Canmore – Communitea #
June 18 – Lethbridge – The Slice #
June 19 – Swift Current – Long Day’s Night Fest +
June 20 – Edmonton – The ARTery %
July 25 – Bengough – Gateway Festival
Aug 28 – Toronto – The Horseshoe
Aug 29 – Guelph – E-Bar
Aug 30 – Sarnia – Fest Of Good Things ^

^ w/ Gord Downie & The Sadies
* w/ Despistado, The Extroverts, & Twin Voices
~ w/ Novillero & Naysa
# w/ High Ends & Black Thunder
+ w/ Close Talker
% w/ High Ends & The Fight
– w/ Modern Aquatics & Peer Support