Regular readers will know that I’m most often accompanied to gigs by Aldo, a great friend of many years standing whose relative youth (he’s not long into his 40s!) means he is far better at keeping up with new things in music than I am.
A long while back, he suggested that I’d enjoy Alvvays if I gave them a listen.
For those who aren’t aware, the band are from Canada, forming in 2011 on Prince Edward Island, one of the most eastern parts of that vast and beautiful country. Molly Rankin (vocals, guitar), Kerri MacLellan (keyboards), Alec O’Hanley (lead guitar), Phil McIssac (drums) and Brian Murphy (bass) collectively moved the 1,000 miles (by road) to Toronto as this opened up more opportunities. They came to the attention of the music business thanks to a series of support slots for different indie bands and positive on-line reactions to their demo material.
A self-titled debut album appeared in the summer of 2014, with the follow-up Antisocialites being issued three years later. The band has long been compared to many that have come out of Scotland, most notably Camera Obscura, along with the likes of Magnetic Fields – and it’s no surprise that both of these acts are also among Aldo’s favourites.
I did heed what my friend had to say, and picked up digital copies of the two albums, thoroughly enjoying what I was hearing, particularly the debut album.
I had assumed that the period of inactivity since 2017, coinciding with the onset of the COVID pandemic, had resulted in the band calling it a day, but I was very wrong.
An email from the good people at Monorail Records not only advised that a new LP was imminent, but that the shop was helping to promote a Glasgow date on an upcoming UK tour. The album and tickets were duly ordered, all of which led to myself and Aldo getting along to see Alvvays last Sunday, where we found ourselves among a few other old friends, not least Comrade Colin. It proved to be an excellent night out, albeit I thought the band was a bit more rock-orientated than I’d anticipated from the two albums, although perhaps that’s an indication of the direction the new record is taking. I’ll soon find out, as Blue Rev comes out today.
The original rhythm section of the band are no longer involved. Sheridan Riley came in on drums in 2017 while Abbey Blackwell arrived as the new bassist just last year. Having not seen any previous incarnation of Alvvays, I can’t say if the new line-up made for a better live experience than before, but I can say that they sounded note-perfect and deservedly got a huge ovation from the 500 fans who made up the capacity audience.
The band have a 24-date tour of the USA, starting in Chicago on 14 October and ending on 18 November in Boston. They are well worth seeing.