. : :January 17th, 2015 : : .
Beams is a band hard to accurately pin down. Their music generally derives from classic folk instrumentation, but it’s the hyphen in the genre that seems to be contested.
One part alternative-rock, one part roots, another part psychedelic: I’m not exaggerating to say I’ve seen literal back-and-forth arguments on Reddit debating how exactly to classify the band — and I expect that’s by design.
Featuring a handful of Toronto’s most widely-recognizable indie musicians, everyone’s bringing something to the buffet, so to speak. Members have been featured here on the blog as participants in The Postage Stamps, Hamilton Trading Co., Freedom or Death, and Danielle Duval, but have also contributed to acts such as Dany Laj and the Looks, the Diableros, Ace of Wands, The Paper Makers, and many others.
Their latest album, Ego Death, is another intentional pivot: front woman Anna Mernieks-Duffield traded the banjo for electric guitar, and while her harmonies with Heather Mazhar are still front-and-centre, there’s an extra weight to songs like the ominously foreboding album opener Born To Win. Deep, almost discordant and distorted guitars punctuate the uneasiness in the track, and lyrics like
there’s no lion in the room except when i’m with you
and i know it isn’t real but don’t you feel it, too?
silent slides like butter down our throats
i’ll believe that you’re a swimmer when i see you float
contribute to the discomfort. By the album’s closer, A Flower Blossomed, the narrator has returned
back home, the house smells good
and i am good to you, and you to me
and everything is easy
Needless to say, Ego Death takes you on quite a journey.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. In 2015, Anna and her now-husband (and the bands percussionist) Mike Mernieks-Duffield sat down with the crew of Toronto news channel CP24’s Morning Show to discuss their then-7″ single, The Gutters & The Glass, and perform the disc’s B-Side, Black Shadow.
I managed to capture it all but, unfortunately for music fans, the program only aired the first 90-seconds or so of the song before cutting to commercial.
Ego Death has been garnering positive buzz from such outlets as Exclaim magazine, which said the album is a “gorgeous narrative cycle that is as intriguing as it is complex.” So, what better time to dig through the archives and pull out a dusty of tape of the band to juxtapose what is with what came before?
Check out the new LP and if you’re as smitten as, say, Martin Noakes of Great Dark Wonder, you want want to circle back and give this tiny tape a curious listen.