If you saw Montreal band Towanda live at the Smiling Buddha last month, then you already know that they are very loud. With their album Plaything, it only takes a few songs to realize just how catchy they can be. The punchy third track “Hedonism” is draped in a spooky backing vocal that brings to mind the old black-and-white version of the Twilight Zone.
At times, what came to mind as I listened was the image of a witches cauldron. This metaphor isn’t at all due to the gender of anyone in the band (full disclosure: they’re women), but because the heavy, fuzzed-out riffs sometimes have a way of boiling and churning like a brew over an open flame. The sequence of “He’s My Muse” into “New Lows” and then “The Future” might have you feeling like you’ve eavesdropped in on a full-moon black magic ritual.
The reverb on the guitar leads has me feeling like this is definitely night time music. The latter half of the album grows more frantic, with “Humourless Rock Music” growing in rapid fire syllabic intensity before almost-but-not-quite settling into a disco drum beat, ending in a cyclone of distortion. Final track “Damage/Control” lurches in with a slow motion bass riff. Lead vocalist/guitarist Rosie Gripton carries an infectious wail until the album enters its final mesmerizing trance. You’ll wish there was more it.
By Sean Madigan