Wednesday, May 05, 2021

The Canarys Demonstrate Musical And Emotional Range With Concept Album ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'

The Canarys are a musical duo, formed of Alexander Hollins and Marco Saah when they were studying together at Loyola University, New Orleans. After a turbulent time with Coronavirus forced them to halt the production of their concept album, the pair decided to re-record the album from their bedrooms on a much lower budget than anticipated. After a year-long wait, they have finally released their new album ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’.

Released in early April, the album provides a glimpse into the fluctuations of human connection. The tracks shift heavily in tone and rhythm, perfectly encapsulating the highs and lows of human experiences and interactions. Resonating with sounds of classic and indie rock, the album has enabled the pair to demonstrate their versatile approach to these sounds, whilst also developing an identifiable image for themselves.  


The Canarys were struck with unfortunate timing, managing to fit just one day in the recording studio before New Orleans shut down due to Coronavirus. With a full album of 11 tracks, the duo certainly did not let any obstacles stand in the way of their ambition to produce a dynamic and explorative album. What is perhaps most interesting is that, through recording this concept album from the comfort of their own bedrooms, Hollins and Saah have inadvertently imagined an ideal environment for their own thoughts and emotions to take shape.


A high level of energy is apparent from the beginning tracks of this album, bursting through from the first song ‘Sweat’. Imaginable as the precipice of their one-day studio album recording rush, this track pounds the album full of momentum. It’s an extremely appropriate starting point to the album, given the pressurised circumstances under which they began the recording process. 

Thick electric guitar blisters throughout ‘Sweat’, and is supported by a  dominant drumbeat to stabilize this track as a lively and animated entry to their record. The characteristics of classic rock are evident within the first few tracks, solidifying the duo’s knowledge of the genre and ability to drum up enticement for their listeners. The pair seem to negotiate their way into a deeper and more sensitive approach to traditional rock sounds when overlaying thoughts of human interaction onto the classic backdrop. 


There comes a turning point where the song ‘Love’ features on the album. It acts as a beautiful transition from the fast tempo percussiveness of ‘Sweat’, ‘Open Up’, ‘Snake’, and ‘Lois and Sam’. It’s a poignant moment for the album and one which gives the duo an opportunity to demonstrate both their musical and written range. 

The pair employ ‘Love’ as proof that they can enclose slower sentiment within an energetic casing; this is also developed through the tracks ‘How to Age Gracefully’ and ‘Gemini’. These tracks still feature the same steady drumbeat, but welcome depth and perspective into their musical arena through smoky guitar and string backing. 

The concluding track ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ is a stark contrast to ‘Sweat’; it is a relaxed, final, and softer portrayal of the steady thoughts punctuated throughout the album. Tweets of birdsong ruffle through the track, creating the perfect opportunity to pause for a reflective observation of the album and its evident philosophical value. 


Linking well to the scattering of images detailed across the album artwork, the Canarys have proven their ability to combine multiple ideas and genres within one solid and recognizable concept album. By exploring alternative methods of recording, the pair have shown their adaptability in overcoming the challenges of recording within the current climate. Hollins and Saah have allowed their ambition to produce great music to shine through their process, despite the challenging circumstances. 


Sophie Wilson


Image: The Canarys ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ Official Album Cover


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