For those who fondly remember -- and are still stimulated and inspired by -- the plethora of influences that came together in the break-new-ground epoch called the New Wave, the Scenics’ new album could be a happy revelation. For anyone who’s unaware of the Toronto, Canada-based band, it’s been around, with several long breaks, since ’76 – after one of the longest, it resurfaced in ’06.
Dead Man Walk Down Bayview, the Scenics’ first studio affair since the ‘70s, is one of the best new-album-by-older-rockers I’ve heard in years. The band’s simple, lo-fi sound has the essence of everything sweet, innocent, and daring that inspired or came out under the New Wave umbrella (the Modern Lovers, early V.U., early Talking Heads, Human Switchboard).
While the word is that the Velvet Underground’s influence on the Scenics is relatively minimal, it’s impossible not to hear the similarities. Indeed, the Scenics’ last release was How Does It Feel to be Loved: The Scenics Play the Velvet Underground (live recordings from ‘77-’81). This is not, in any way, a bad thing. On tracks such as “A Fox, Her Fur, and Where She Parks It,” the Scenics have the fresh feel of the Loaded-era VU in a way that Lou Reed hasn’t, for decades – whether he’s said he wants to or not. The Scenics’ inspired guitar weavings, crisp trap beats, and vocals intuitively mixing dissonance with melody to deliver from-the-heart songs are, quite simply, a joy.
Believing in fairies as I do, I hope the band comes to my town soon. Really soon.
Here’s a video for the song “Do the Wait,” which anyone lucky enough to know about the Scenics’ cyber home at the time could download, gratis, in 2010. Since you might want to be ready the next time anything like that happens, the url’s below the video link.