A couple years ago, I went to see Jason Collett at Richard's. Due to the poor planning (on their part) and a curfew, I thought I was getting there early, but actually caught the last couple songs of the bands set, in an almost-empty room. They came back later as Collett's backing band, and Jason was nice enough to let them play another one of their songs in the middle of the set, for those who missed them. They were also the band that opened for, and backed up, Collett when he was back a couple months later as kind of a make-up show. That time I caught the whole set, and while I was interested in them the first time, this time I was won over. And then when Metric came through town, I was excited enough, but when they added this band as their opener, I was thrilled. Who am I talking about? Zeus, of course. After a fantastic teaser EP last year, they released their first full length this year, Say Us. A few times I've been burned by bands with great EPs, but mediocre full lengths -- mostly the same amount of good songs, spread out over twice as long -- and while I wasn't really worried, since I had heard some of it live, it was still in the back of my mind.
The album sets the stage with, "How Does It Feel?", a holdover from the EP which gives you a hint of the catchiness that will pop up in the next 40 minutes or so. "Fever Of The Time" is a bit more mellow, but not without a subdued energy, and then one of my favourites, "Kindergarten", builds to a fantastic finale. It is perhaps the best proof that "[they] got fire within [them]", along with the next track, "The Renegade" and its climb to a great ending. "Greater Times On The Wayside" is a short track that almost leads perfectly into "The River By The Garden", which has an upbeat mood that belies its darker lyrics (that remind me a little of Where The Wild Roses Grow). After that, "You Gotta' Teller" ramps up the energy with distortion and fuzz, and is probably the most intense on the album. "I Know" and "Marching Through Your Head" are another couple from the EP, with the latter being fantastically catchy (an apt title, too, since that is what the song will be doing). "The Sound Of You" brings the tempo down, if only for a moment, when "Heavy On Me" starts with an energy and intensity that keeps boiling just under the surface, breaking through every so often only to be contained again, before letting loose at the end. The album closes with the piano-heavy "At The Risk Of Repeating", which is a nice way to close the album.
One great thing about Zeus is the fluidity of the band. With the exception of drummer Rob Drake, the members Mike O'Brien, Carlin Nicholson & Neil Quin all trade off instruments and lead vocals throughout the album. But there is never a jarring shift; the songs all blend together so seamlessly that you might not even notice. It's rather Sloan-esque, showing off how multi-talented the whole band is, and is especially cool when seeing them live. Needless to say, my worries were for nought, as the album more than matches the awesomeness of the EP. It is undeniable contagious and infinitely re-listenable, and will no doubt be remembered by the time the year-end best-of lists roll around.
Download The River By The Garden
Download Heavy On Me