Found Music: Wildlife – “Strike Hard, Young Diamond”

Call this a late pass, but I only just discovered Toronto-based band Wildlife a little while ago. Better late than never, though, because they are pretty awesome.

I first stumbled across the band via one of blogTO’s weekly, thematic mixtape releases, which compile five new-release tracks by local Toronto artists into a single file. Like the original cassette mixtapes, you have to listen to them all in order; there is no way to skip tracks. It’s an anachronistic beauty.

Wildlife’s single “Stand in the Water” was the first track off the Meet Me in the Middle mixtape [here] of November 21, 2010, and as a lead, it definitely sets the tone for the uncertain romance echoed in the following tracks.

With a lead singer whose voice is reminiscent of  Hot Hot Heat’s Steve Bays, and perfect synergy between the drums, guitars and chorus-like backing vocals, the initial track “Stand in the Water” stood out enough [yes, that pun was intentional] to make me want to know more about these artists.

Curiousity spurred me to research them (onward, Google!) and I discovered that they had released three tracks off their debut album Strike Hard, Young Diamond as a free download in November 2010 available here, which included “Stand in the Water”, the single found on the blogTO compilation. The other two tracks are “Sea Dreamer” and “When I get Home”. Judging by the samples, it is not hard to imagine that the rest of the album lives up to the promise of these first three tracks.

Lyrically, just to focus on “Stand in the Water” a bit longer, the philosophy seems to be ironic yet hopeful, playing on one of the most common themes in music (the metaphorical “river” – think everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Amos Lee to Good Charlotte and you get the idea…). “Stand in the Water” is a song about wanting to be with someone, yet wanting to keep a safe enough distance while still hoping they will actually take you up on your invitation to get close.

It does come with a slightly sardonic twist – “Meet me down by the river/ It doesn’t matter which river, they’re all going somewhere” – which seems to poke fun at the very same musical trope they are using to such great effect.

BlogTO’s Aldrin Taroy says about the track, “The four-minute anthem parades like an army with loud marching band bass drums, guitar splashes and chant-a-long lyrics that lead us toward that “somewhere”.”

Also, this is modern romance: No promises made, just bluntly honest statements of what is being brought to the table (“I can be your good friend, and I can be a good lover, but I can’t do both of them, I can’t do both/ I can hope”) yet with the optimism that it will be enough.

Wildlife are definitely a new favourite, and I can’t wait to hear what else they have in store.