by Shane Twerdun
VANCOUVER – As If We Are Sinking, is the debut album from Vancouver’s Year of the Wolf. With smoky vocals, sexy guitars, and a nuanced rhythmic pulse, it sprays the listener with a musical musk you won’t soon be able to wash off. It’s highway rock and roll. A musical companion that stays positive, tells great stories, and keeps you going as you drive across the country late at night.
“The music is energetic, fun, definitely as honest and raw as possible,” singer/guitarist Kyle Vaughan states. The band has two primary lyricists, Vaughan and Chad Gilmour. Two musicians who ran in the same circles in Ottawa, even working for the same company, but never met until they moved to Vancouver in 2012. The subtle difference in styles is displayed perfectly on the record. When asked the difference between these styles, Vaughan says, “I think I’m explaining an experience, and he’s explaining a feeling.”
“There are nine songs on this album. Songs we were all attached to, songs we all liked,” says Gilmour. Defining a genre is a little more slippery. He goes on to say, “It’s an authentic representation of how we like to play music. As an artist you never want to be compared to anyone, however you cannot write without influence.” Vaughan says Ladyhawke and Sam Roberts were influences for him, “It’s Canadiana mixed with indie rock.”
It’s Gilmour who stands as the eye of the hurricane, a confident frontman anchoring the sonic whirlwind around him. Year of the Wolf are a six-piece band with a trio of guitars. Vaughan leads with energy, Gilmour provides the driving rhythm, and Johnny Gillich lashes the listener with his licks, accentuating the songs perfectly. Carson Webber is a cybernetic organism, living tissue over bass guitar, so metronomically tuned he never misses a note he, or anyone else plays. Webber’s wife Chelsea lights up the music with her warm harmonies. Finally, hammering on the drums is James Jeffrey, a multi-talented musician who only started playing drums recently, and, according to Gilmour is, “a better guitar player than all of us combined.”
Some bands have a dysfunctional family relationship, but Year of the Wolf exudes a genuine love for each other, the music, and the audience. Gilmour opens up about their philosophy, “I think collaboration is the highest form of art. Everyone here is part of what’s going on. If you don’t have the listener, your songs are worthless, they’re hitting the wall and bouncing back to you, so forget about it. It’s a symbiotic relationship, the chicken and egg. You can’t have one without the other.”
Year of the Wolf’s debut album As If We Are Sinking is available now.