By Joe Hartfeil
CALGARY – As the Latin name of the Eurasian river otter, the designation Lutra Lutra suggests the semiaquatic mammal’s slippery, sneakily dangerous qualities. Edmonton alternative rock band Lutra Lutra displays many of the same characteristics.
Witness the upcoming full-length, Psychopath and the Philosopher, a wily album wherein the group slithers through ten hook-laden songs whose choruses may end up firmly lodged in your brain before you’ve had the chance to digest the complexity of their ensemble playing and lead singer/guitarist/primary songwriter Garreth Burrows’s favourite theme of “relationships through dichotomy.”
The band’s origins stretch back to when Garreth and his sister Katrina Burrows (keyboards/vocals) began playing as an acoustic duo. After some changes to the genre, name and lineup, the Burrows siblings, along with bassist Will Smith and drummer Denis Frigon, now comprise a quartet as tight in its intricate arrangements as it clearly is on a personal level.
The attention to detail that goes into the richly-textured recordings as produced by Royal Tusk’s Quinn Cyrankiewicz, not to mention Garreth’s songcraft, is also a hallmark of the group’s live shows. Rather than excessive stage banter, the band instead puts its energies into carefully plotting out musical transitions between songs, including a three-minute one leading into “Zombie,” which Garreth calls “almost a different song at this point.”
Other highlights include “Devils Give” (video here) and the title track. An inspiration for “Psychopath and the Philosopher” was two cats Garreth lived with who exhibited the personalities of, naturally, a psychopath and a philosopher (specifically Slavoj Žižek, after whom the latter cat was named), echoing the concept of humans as animals present in the group’s moniker. Otter people and cat people alike can see Lutra Lutra in its natural habitat this month with live performances in Edmonton and Calgary.
Lutra Lutra will perform on Dec. 15 at new venue Polar Park Brewery (Edmonton) and on Dec. 21 at Vern’s (Calgary).Lutra Lutra, Polar Park Brewery, Record Premiere, Vern's, You Otter Know